Did you know that soft-bristled toothbrushes are recommended by the American Dental Association over stiff-bristled brushes? There’s a reason that a gentler scrub is recommended by dental professionals everywhere: a heavy hand while brushing with stiff bristles not only scratches tooth enamel but actually contributes to a receding gumline and the need for a gum graft procedure in Denver. However, improper brushing isn’t the only culprit of receding gums—several issues could be contributing to your disappearing gum tissues. Below, learn more about the “how” and the “why” behind gum recession.

Are you looking for gum graft treatment to reverse gum recession and restore a healthy-looking smile? Denver periodontist Dr. Mike Norouzinia is a member of the American Academy of Periodontology and helps patients from across the area restore healthy gum tissue and eliminate painful symptoms of gum recession and periodontal disease. For more information, call our Denver dental practice at 303.534.2626.

The Biology of Your Gums

Receding Gums? Here's Why

In your mouth, teeth are just part of the picture. Your teeth are surrounded and supported by other hard and soft tissues including the jaw and gums. But not all gum tissue is the same. Several different types of gum tissues exist in your mouth in differing areas to better protect and support your teeth.

The first type of tissue, “free gingiva,” is a tissue which most closely surrounds the crown of the tooth yet isn’t attached to it.  You can most easily observe this when flossing: the string of dental floss can actually reach underneath this very small part of the gums. The second type of tissue, the “attached gingiva,” is directly above free gingiva, and is closely attached to the bones and teeth roots underneath it. This area of the gums is essential for preventing invading bacteria from accessing the hard tissues of the mouth. The third type of tissue, “mucogingival tissue,” is thinner and softer than the attached gingiva, and connects the gums to the inner cheeks and other soft tissue structures in the mouth.

Understanding Gum Recession

Recession is the process of pulling away or disappearing. Gum tissues, which covers the hard tissues of the teeth and jaw bone can recede, exposing the hard tissues and greatly reducing their level of protection from harmful oral bacteria. This is because once the free gingiva recedes, the attached gingiva can also start receding. When this happens, tooth roots are exposed. Unlike the enamel-covered tooth crowns that are visible above the gums, tooth roots are softer and more prone to decay when exposed to bacteria. Exposed roots can also cause great discomfort and sensitivity. The more tooth root surface that is exposed from gum recession, the greater the chances of tooth pain, decay and (eventually) loss.

The Culprits Behind Gum Recession

Abrasive brushing is just one cause for gum recession. While gum graft treatments from a periodontist can treat gum recession, trying to eliminate the cause of the recession before it advances too far is the best way to reverse recession and prevent invasive treatments. Some causes, however, may be unpreventable in some cases.

Gum recession culprits can include:

Periodontal disease: harmful oral bacteria releases acids that erode both tooth enamel and gum tissues. If left untreated, advanced periodontal disease (periodontitis) can completely destroy attached gingiva and expose tooth roots.

Trauma: either from a bad bite (or the medical term “malocclusion”) or from misaligned teeth, your gums could suffer repeated friction that leads to recession. Additionally, ill-fitting or deteriorated dental appliances (such as bridges, crowns, or dentures) could destroy healthy gum tissue with abrasion.

Genetics: if gum recession runs in the family, there’s a chance you, too, could have a genetic predisposition to receding, thin gum tissue.

Clenching/grinding: bruxism doesn’t just put stress and pressure on the teeth, but also on the supportive structures around them—including gums. Receding gum lines could be just one symptom of untreated bruxism.

Tobacco use: Cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco (or “dip”) can all contribute to gum recession, as tobacco use causes blood vessels within the gums to constrict, eventually leading to weakened, hardened gums that cannot fight off bacterial infections.

Denver Gum Graft Treatment

If you’re noticing diminishing gums, or are experiencing increased sensitivity, schedule an appointment with one of our Denver dentists. Our team can help you protect your teeth and gums and reverse the negative effects of gum recession.