Receding gums: Causes and Treatments

Receding gums is a painful result of gum disease. It is when the margin of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth wears away, exposing more of the tooth sometimes up to the root. Gum recession is very painful.

Receding gums will always need medical intervention. It is important to have dental insurance at your disposal to mitigate the costs of ongoing dental treatments; which is necessary to maintain healthy teeth and gums. 

How do you get receding gums?

Receding gums have been linked to poor hygiene, but there are a number of medical conditions that affect the teeth and mouth. 

Causes of receding gums include periodontal disease, genetic predisposition and aggressive brushing and flossing. Gum recession leaves gums and roots exposed and therefore susceptible to disease-causing bacteria. Untreated, the supporting tissue and bone structures of the teeth can be severely damaged and may ultimately result in tooth loss.

Aggressive flossing and brushing your teeth can wear away at the tooth enamel (outer layer) and also injure the gums. Cuts on the gums leave them open to infection. 

Also, if you do not practise proper dental care, plaque can build up on the enamel. Over time, plaque builds up and turns hard. This is called calculus. Calculus needs to be removed by a dentist at a professional cleaning. Removing it yourself can cause damage to your teeth as it needs to be scraped off with the proper instruments. 

Calculus, also called tartar, can push back the gums. 

If your receding gums are genetic, they are probably irreversible, but the condition can be managed by lifestyle and diet changes. 

Around 30% of people are genetically predisposed to receding gums and the diseases that cause it. People who suffer from receding gum lines may want to avoid certain foods, as they could aggravate the condition and cause even more discomfort.

Which foods should be avoided?

Most acidic foods and drinks such as sodas, citrus and coffee, pasta, bread and the likes should be avoided, or eaten in moderation. Food that is full of acid and sugar will damage the teeth. This is particularly true in the absence of a healthy dental hygiene routine.  So when the teeth are overexposed to these acids and sugars, it can wreak havoc in the mouth. 

David Dennison DDS, MS, PhD, a diplomat of the American Board of Periodontology, says that highly acidic foods destroy the enamel of the teeth, so they can further damage teeth that have already been over-exposed as a result of receding gums.


Alcohol, including food that has been cooked using alcohol, can aggravate receding gums, Affinity Dental said in an article earlier this year. 

Alcohol causes dry mouth. This means that the mouth isn’t moist enough to facilitate the movement of the lips and tongue.  Also, a lack of saliva is detrimental to cleaning bacteria and debris from your teeth. Healthline explains that saliva helps repair early signs of tooth decay, gum disease and other oral infections.


The first step is making an appointment with your dentist. It is important that your dentist should assess just how far the gums have receded and the extent of the damage. 

If you have bacteria in the small spaces created by receding gums, they’ll likely start with a deep-cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing, says Healthline.

Receding gums won’t grow back, but treatment is important to stop the process in its tracks. 

Your daily, at-home dental routine will need to be modified. 

You will need to brush more each day, but probably with a soft-bristled brush to avoid injuries. Flossing is also vital to eliminate bacteria and build-up between the teeth. An antibacterial mouthwash is important as the last step for extra protection. 


Some people opt for surgical intervention. This can be either gum grafting, bonding or flap surgery. Flap surgery is performed to remove hard-to-reach plaque that has crept under the gums. An incision is made to reach the area. Gum grafts are more cosmetic. Tissue is taken from a different part of the mouth to cover the exposed areas. It also helps to prevent future recession and bone damage.

Boding is the same concept as fillings, but for gums. The faux gum is built with a pin resin and acts as a prosthetic, covering the exposed areas. It also protects against damage.

Like health insurance, dental insurance covers the cost of certain procedures, check-ups and emergencies either in their entirety, or to an agreed upon percentage, depending on the type of plan you choose. In turn, the insured pays a monthly premium. Dental insurance policies help many people to effectively budget for the cost of major dental procedures.

As for Affinity Dental, there are three tiers of dental insurance available at different price points. Each of these options covers certain specialist work to various degrees. 


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