Receding gums is a form of periodontal disease that occurs when the gums gradually pull away from a tooth, causing its roots to be exposed. According to the CDC, over 45 percent of American adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. If it remains untreated, gum recession can result in tooth loss. 

Receding gums is more common in men than women and more common in those living below the federal poverty level and in current smokers. Continue reading to learn more about the causes, treatment and prevention for receding gums.


Receding gums occurs when the gum tissue surrounding the tooth or teeth pulls back or wears away, causing exposure to the tooth or its root. When this form of periodontal disease occurs, pockets or gaps form between the tooth and the gum line, allowing bacteria and diseases to build up in the pockets. If ignored or not treated, the teeth and bone structures can become severely damaged and possibly result in tooth loss.

As noted above, gum recession is a widespread dental problem. Most receding gum cases occur over time, making it difficult for people to notice. Some common signs for gum recession are:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth looking more extended than usual
  • Notches felt at the gumline

If you notice any warning signs, you should make an appointment with your dentist immediately. Other signs to be aware of include:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Tender, bleeding or painful gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Problems chewing
  • Different fit when you bite or dentures no longer fitting properly


Although there are many different causes for receding gums, some play a factor more than others. For example, your genes can put you at risk for receding gums. Studies suggest that over 30 percent of the population is pre-exposed to gum diseases based on genes, no matter how well they care for their teeth. To learn more about gum disease, read our blog, Gum Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Other risk factors include excessive tooth brushing with harsh bristles, exposure to other periodontal diseases and hormonal changes (especially in women), such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause and the use of oral contraceptives. Finally, insufficient dental care, such as not brushing or flossing as often as you should and not visiting your dentist regularly can result in receding gums. When this happens, tartar can build up, causing plaque on your teeth that can only be removed with a professional cleaning.

Other common risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Crooked Teeth
  • Underlying immune-deficiencies
  • Defective fillings
  • Medications that can cause dry mouth


Your dentist may treat a mild case of gum recession with a deep cleaning of the affected area. This cleaning is called tooth scaling and root planing. During the cleaning, the plaque that has built up on the teeth and the possible root surfaces that are exposed is smoothed out, which makes it more difficult for disease-causing bacteria to attach and infect an exposed pocket area of the gums. 

There may be excess loss of bone in severe cases, or the pockets may be too deep to clean, resulting in gum surgery. Depending on the damage caused, different surgeries may be used and chosen based on your needs. For example, soft-tissue grafting is when your dentist or periodontist cuts a flap of skin from the roof of the mouth, and tissue from under the flap is removed and placed surrounding the exposed root(s). Another type of surgery that may be used is regeneration. This surgery is used when the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed. This results in your dentist or periodontist utilizing some type of regenerative material, whether it be a membrane, tissue, or protein, and applying it to the affected area, hoping that your body will naturally regenerate.


Receding gums can be prevented with good oral hygiene tactics and having regular check-ups at the dentist. To do your part in preventing receding gums and other periodontal diseases, make sure to brush and floss every day to remove bacteria that cause gum diseases. In addition, always use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and be gentle when you brush. To learn about the proper way to care for your teeth, check out our blog, Teeth Brushing 101

Other ways to prevent receding gums include:

  • Quit smoking if you are a smoker. You can learn more about the dental risks of smoking by checking out our blog, Dental Risks Associated with Smoking
  • Maintain and eat a well-balanced diet
  • Monitor changes that occur in your mouth


At The Landing Dental Spa, we understand that receding gums can be painful and not always noticed at first because of their occurrence over time. That is why we recommend going to dental check-ups regularly. If you are experiencing swollen gums, dark red gums, gums that bleed easily, bad breath, receding gums or tender gums, we encourage you to make a dental appointment as soon as possible.  

Our staff will gladly welcome you into our state-of-the-art facility. We pride ourselves on offering the Morgantown area the most relaxing dental environment possible. Our services include several comforting and complimentary amenities like heated massage chairs, neck pillows, spa music and more. Feel free to ask us any questions or concerns you may have. Call us today to schedule your next appointment at (304) 594-2200. We look forward to seeing you soon!