The Seven Top Causes of Gum Recession and Gum Disease

By Burton Gooch on May 11, 2019


An illustration of healthy vs. damaged gum tissueThe gums are an important component of your oral structure. They contribute to your oral health and the beauty of your smile. Unfortunately, there are some bad habits that can damage gum tissue.

At Gooch Family Dental in Birmingham, AL, we offer restorative dentistry treatments to improve the health of the gums. To help patients better understand how to prevent keep their periodontal tissues healthy, we discuss the causes of gum recession and gum disease in this blog post.

1. The Build-up of Plaque and Bacteria

The build-up of bacteria and plaque along the gum line is the primary cause of gum disease, which results in swelling and redness in the gingival tissues. When plaque builds up, this sticky substance attracts bacteria. As the bacteria feed on plaque, they release acids that damage the gum tissue.

2. Smoking and Other Tobacco Use

Smoking has a detrimental effect on most aspects of a person's health. This includes their gingival health. Gingival inflammation is more common in smokers, and they are more prone to develop periodontal disease.

The smokeless form of tobacco has similar effects, but with the added risk of physically damaging the gingival tissues due to the close proximity.

The best option is to discontinue all use of tobacco. If that is not an option, patients should pay extra attention to their daily oral hygiene and see their dentist regularly.

3. Hormone Changes

Increased gingival inflammation is often seen in patients who have higher-than-normal levels of hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. These include patients who are pregnant, menstruating, or who take oral contraceptives, as well as teenagers going through puberty.

This is not usually a serious problem, but these patients should be especially attentive to their oral hygiene and have regular dental cleanings.

4. Improper Brushing

Patients who brush too vigorously with a stiff or hard toothbrush can damage the gum tissue. With time, aggressive brushing can cause the gums to recede.

We recommend that patients use a soft-bristled brush and a sensitive formula toothpaste. A circular or up-and-down brushing technique is more effective and less traumatic than a hard back and forth movement.

5. Dry Mouth

Certain medications or conditions can suppress saliva production. This causes a chronically dry mouth, or xerostomia. Patients that have a dry mouth suffer from an increased risk of gum disease and cavities.

To minimize the risks, patients should drink plenty of water and consider the use of saliva substitutes. In addition, patients may find the use of sugarless gum or candy beneficial.

6. Systemic Diseases and Conditions

Several diseases are associated with various forms of gum diseases. One of the most common is diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetics have a higher rate of periodontal disease. The key for these patients is to work with their physician to bring their blood sugar back under control. This can improve their oral and overall health.

7. Malnutrition

This is not commonly seen in most developed countries, but it can exist in certain groups of patients, such as the elderly and those who are alcohol or drug dependent. Malnutrition is associated with higher rates of gum disease.

Contact Our Practice

Red, swollen, and bleeding gums are important signs of gingival inflammation. This is not a healthy or normal condition, so those who experience these symptoms should see their dentist to try to determine the cause or causes.

To schedule an appointment at Gooch Family Dental, contact us online or call us in Birmingham at (205) 545-8001.

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