Young woman pulling back lower lip to show gum inflammation

How to Prevent Gum Recession – Tips and Techniques for a Healthy Smile

Gum recession occurs when gum tissue pulls downward and away from your teeth. This leads to root exposure, which can be painful. It also affects how your smile looks.

It’s unlikely you’ll reverse gum recession, at least not without significant treatment, but it is possible to prevent further gum recession.

And if you are in the early stages of gum recession or trying to prevent it from happening at all, there are several things you can do.

Here’s what you should know about gum recession and how to prevent it.

What Is Gum Recession?

Gum recession and other types of gum disease affect the health and appearance of your gums and teeth. Recession occurs as gum tissue pulls away from the teeth.

In addition to making your teeth look more significant than they should, this also poses a higher risk of developing cavities. Many people with gum recession also experience tooth sensitivity, which makes eating and dental care painful.

There are varying stages of gum recession. When recession is mild, you can take steps to prevent it from worsening, and you might not ever realize you’ve had a problem. Moderate to severe cases of gum recession can affect your day-to-day life.

Anyone is prone to gum recession, but some people have a higher risk. For example, you’re more at risk of gum recession if you:

  • Are over age 65 (approximately 85 to 90 of people in this age group have recession on at least one or more teeth)
  • Wore braces or other orthodontic treatments
  • Have periodontal disease
  • Have a tongue or lip piercing
  • Use chewing tobacco
  • Are an aggressive toothbrusher

What Are the Symptoms of Gum Recession?

The symptoms of gum recession include:

  • Sensitivity to eating hot or cold foods or sweets
  • Pain or discomfort on the gum line
  • Sensitivity during dental visits
  • Pain when flossing or brushing

Gum recession also puts you at risk of more serious dental health problems. This includes:

  • Bone loss
  • Tooth movement or a feeling of wiggling
  • Unappealing appearance

What Causes Gum Recession?

Several things contribute to gum recession. Some of these issues cannot be prevented, but the more you can do to avoid the controllable factors, the less likely you’ll be to experience recession. For example, the following can cause gum recession:

  • Brushing too hard
  • Developing periodontal disease
  • Experiencing tartar or plaque buildup
  • Getting a lip or tongue piercing
  • Smoking or using chewing tobacco
  • Experiencing gum trauma or injury
  • Having abnormal tooth positioning
Close-up of receding gums on the lower jaw

Gum recession can be linked to poor dental health, but not everyone who develops gum recession will have poor dental health. No matter the cause, it’s essential to do what you can to prevent the situation from worsening.

How to Prevent Gum Recession

There are several things you can do to prevent gum recession. These practices also prevent existing gum recession from worsening. This is true whether or not your gum recession is due to poor dental hygiene or other factors.

The best ways to prevent gum recession include:

  • Brushing your teeth two times per day with a soft bristle brush
  • Flossing everyday
  • Using an antimicrobial mouthwash every day
  • Avoiding or quitting smoking or using chewing tobacco
  • Following advice from your dentist regarding teeth cleaning

Dentists diagnose gum recession by measuring the amount of recession with a periodontal probe. Healthy gum pockets are between one and three millimetres.

Gingivitis causes pockets to dip to four millimetres. People with periodontal disease have gum pockets of five millimetres or more. During the exam, your dentist will also check for any bone loss.

Treating Gum Recession

Treatment for gum recession is mainly focused on preventing the condition from worsening. You can also do things to prevent gum recession from interfering with your everyday life, such as using sensitive toothpaste with ingredients like arginine, potassium nitrate, stannous fluoride, and strontium chloride.

You can also ask your dentist about desensitizing agents. They can also use a numbing agent during dental cleanings to reduce this type of pain.

There are also treatments available to improve gum recession. However, the only way to fully correct the problem is surgery.

Non-surgical options for lessening gum recession include:

  • Dental bonding: this camouflages the affected area with a composite resin that matches your teeth to cover the exposed root.
  • Orthodontics: This is an option for people whose recession is caused by a crooked tooth or teeth.
  • Topical antibiotics: These are used when recession is linked to periodontal disease, often during deep cleaning procedures. Antibiotics are sometimes put under the gums to treat gum disease.

Gum graft surgery is the best way to correct gum recession. It has both cosmetic and functional benefits. The grafting procedure takes healthy tissue from somewhere else in your mouth (or from a donor) and stitches over the area where your gums have receded. Most people recover from grafting surgery in a couple of weeks. 

Young woman smiling, exposing white teeth and healthy gums

Whether or not you choose to undergo gum grafting surgery, speaking to your dentist is essential if you believe you are experiencing gum recession or at risk of recession.

It can be a serious condition but also highly manageable, primarily if you treat it early enough. It cannot be cured but can be halted with proper dental care.

When discussing gum recession with your dentist, be sure to ask:

  • What stage is my gum recession?
  • Will non-surgical treatments be enough to help me?
  • If I need gum grafting surgery, what type do you recommend?
  • What do you think caused my gum recession?
  • Is there anything I can do to prevent it from worsening?
  • Do I need more frequent and deep cleaning procedures?

If you’d like to know more about gum recession prevention or treating gum recession, or you’re interested in discussing other dental procedures, including porcelain veneers, bridges, crowns, and root canals with a gentle touch, we can help. Call us now and book a consultation in Belleville or Trenton, ON.