Gum Recession

What You Should Know About Gum Recession

You can have a perfectly healthy mouth and be conscientious about oral hygiene, but you may still experience gum recession.

The  dental term for gum tissue is gingiva – the thick, pink tissue that hugs the teeth and is firmly attached to the underlying bone, and the mucosa, or unattached gingiva, the soft thin moveable tissue that makes up the inside of the lips and cheeks.

Gum recession occurs when the edge of the gum tissue (called the gingival margin) moves away from the crown of the tooth.

You can have a perfectly healthy mouth – no infection, no periodontal (gum) disease and no active tooth decay – and you can be very conscientious about practicing good oral hygiene, but you may still experience gum recession.

Several factors contribute to gum recession. One of the main causes is an irregular or abnormal tooth position. For example, a tooth may protrude because it was crowded when permanent teeth began to push through he gums. As a result, there is inadequate jawbone to cover the tooth’s root and the tooth is pushed forward or out of the bone. The condition is sometimes noticeable as early as age 10.

Heredity is another factor. A person may simply have thin, fragile or insufficient gum tissue. Other causes of gum recession include:

  • aggressive or excessive tooth brushing
  • trauma to gum tissues
  • periodontal (gum) disease


When minor gum recession is ignored, continued recession and bone loss around the teeth is likely. If gum recession is due to excessive or aggressive brushing, your dental office staff can show you more effective methods to clean your teeth.

Treatment methods vary by the type and severity of the gum recession.  Central Texas Periodontics may recommend allograft surgery (called gingival or gum grafts) and other procedures that help create more attached gingiva to prevent gum recession from increasing and to help regenerate and reestablish coverage of the root. This also helps protect the tooth from decay.

During an allograft placement, Central Texas Periodontics will loosen the existing gum tissue and then place the allograft. To complete the procedure, Central Texas Periodontics will suture the gums into place.

Allografts may be performed around one tooth or several teeth. The benefits include creating gum tissue that will reduce the likelihood of further gum recession, helping cover exposed roots, enhancing the appearance of the gum line and preventing or treating root sensitivity.

If recession is due to periodontal (gum) disease, the first step usually involves a special cleaning, called scaling and root planing, to remove plaque and tartar deposits on the tooth and root surfaces (below the gum line). This procedure helps gum tissues heal. For many patients, this treatment along with excellent oral hygiene at home and regular dental checkups can help stop periodontal disease and further gum loss.

Post-treatment care

Tooth diagram: the parts of a toothOur team will provide directions for care, which may include using a special mouth rinse or restricting your diet. A periodontal bandage or dressing may be placed over the graft.

After surgery, the area may be tender or sore and it may swell. Patients generally can expect to resume their normal routine the next day. However, you may need to avoid chewing where the surgery was done for a few days to a week depending on the procedure.

The success of the tissue grafts depends on several things. Tobacco or alcohol use, clenching or grinding the teeth, dietary or nutritional problems, inadequate oral hygiene, and medications or certain medical conditions may all negatively affect the success of the graft surgery.


American Dental Association logoFor healthy gums, maintain a well balanced diet after surgery. Brush gently twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and clean between teeth once a day with floss or other interdental cleaner to remove plaque. Your dentist may provide instructions on additional cleaning methods or may recommend oral hygiene products to use at home.  Look for products that display the American dental Associations (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, a sign that a product has met ADA’s criteria for safety and effectiveness.

The old expression “long in the tooth” was once used to describe people who seemed old because their teeth looked unusually long. The look of premature aging likely was caused by gum recession, which leaves tooth roots exposed.

But more than aging a persons looks, gum recession makes teeth more sensitive to some foods and to hot and cold temperatures. Gum recession leaves teeth more vulnerable to decay and to potential bone loss. Age is not necessarily a factor.  Gum recession can occur in pre-teens as well.

A layer of enamel protects the crowns of healthy teeth. A layer called cementum protects the tooth root under the gum line.  Underneath the enamel and the cementum is dentin, a part of the tooth that is softer and less dense than enamel or cementum.

Healthy gum tissue attaches to the root of a tooth to form a protective collar. When gum tissue recedes, the tooth’s cementum may be exposed. This can result in sensitive teeth. Tooth root decay (called root caries), may develop because the softer root surface decays more readily than the enamel on the tooth’s crown.

The Stages of
Periodontal Disease

1. Healthy Gums

1. Healthy Gums

2. Gingivitis

2. Gingivitis

3. Periodontal Pockets

3. Periodontal Pockets

4. Periodontis

4. Periodontis