What Causes Gum Recession?

What Causes Gum Recession? Photo

What is Gum Recession?

If you’ve ever been told that you have gum recession, you probably wanted to know what caused it. To understand what causes it, you first have to understand what it is. Gum recession is when the gums recede or shrink away from your teeth, leaving the tooth’s root exposed. The root isn’t as tough as the tooth itself because it doesn’t have enamel. So when it becomes exposed, it can be sensitive to hot and cold, and even more susceptible to cavities. It can happen to just about anyone, even those with exceptional hygiene.

Causes of Gum Recession Infographic - All text listed below

Causes of Gingival Recession (Gum Recession)

So, what exactly causes gum recession?

  • Periodontal Disease
  • Smoking or Tobacco Use
  • Frenum Involvement
  • Genetics
  • Poor Tooth Positioning
  • Trauma to the Mouth or Gums
  • Improper Flossing
  • Inflammation

That’s quite the list, isn’t it? Well let’s go over it – line by line, to help you better understand what causes gum recession.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, causes bone loss. When the bone levels begin to shrink, the gum tissue shrinks right along with it. If the patient has active periodontal disease, this condition should be treated first. With proper treatment, the pockets can be reduced which helps the gums re-attach to the tooth. In severe cases, the gum may still be recessed and might require treatment with a gum graft.

Smoking or Tobacco Use

Smoking and tobacco use are directly linked to periodontal disease. In fact, patients who smoke are about three times more likely to have periodontal disease. As mentioned above, periodontal disease causes bone loss and gum loss.

Frenum Involvement

Most people have a fibers, or bands of tissue, in their mouths known as frenums. These tissues can sometimes pull tightly on gum tissue, causing them to recede. In cases like this, a frenectomy is usually the answer. During a frenectomy, the fibers are removed using a laser. In severe cases, a gum graft may be needed to correct the recession .


Some people are born with thin gum tissue, thanks to genetics. When the tissue is thin, it is much more susceptible to recession. Patients with thin gum tissue often need to be very diligent with their home care to prevent plaque from building up.

Poor Tooth Positioning

If you have a tooth or teeth that are slightly turned, or just positioned incorrectly, there’s a high likelihood that they will have some type of recession. If a tooth is rotated, it may not be getting the ideal amount of blood supply that is needed to keep the gum tissue attached. If this is the case, you may need to see an orthodontist to discuss movement of the tooth.


In cases of trauma, gum recession can occur. One of the most common types of trauma is brushing or flossing too hard. Recession can also occur as a result of an injury from an accident.

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