Periodontal disease and dental exams

Why do I have receding gums?

Most people visit the dentist for teeth cleanings or restorative dental work. But for your teeth to be healthy, your gums must also be healthy. So if your gums are starting to recede, we encourage you to make an appointment with our Langley, BC dental office today. Gum recession can lead to other health issues, so the sooner we treat the problem, the better.

Why Do Gums Recede?

Gums can recede for a variety of reasons, such as:

Gum Disease

The most common cause of gum recession is gum disease. Seven out of 10 Canadians will develop gum disease at some point in their lives.

With gum disease, plaque gets trapped between your gums and teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed, it turns into tartar. Tartar irritates the gums and causes them to recede.

Gum disease can also cause swelling and bleeding along the gums, which can be a problem for dental crowns, bridges, implants and other cosmetic dentistry work.

Improper Or Poor Oral Hygiene

If you aren’t brushing at least twice per day and flossing once per day, your lack of oral hygiene can lead to gum recession and possible tooth loss.

Even if you do follow the rules for brushing and flossing, you can still damage your gums. For example, using a hard toothbrush or being too aggressive with your brushing can cause irritation and gum recession.

We encourage our patients to use an electric toothbrush or a soft-bristled brush. No matter what type of brush you’re using, it’s important to be gentle when brushing near your gums.

Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Sometimes, gums can recede because you clench or grind your teeth. You may be grinding your teeth at night and not even know it. Some people clench their teeth during the day and while they sleep.

If you grind or clench your teeth daily, it can cause many dental issues, including gum recession.


Genetics can also increase your risk of gum recession. If your parents or grand parents had issues with receding gums, then you may as well.

Your bite may be out of alignment, or your teeth may be naturally crooked. Both of these scenarios can put excess strain on some of your teeth. In addition, abnormal wear can irritate your gums, which can cause them to recede eventually.

Patient showing lower anterior receded gums

What Causes Gums to Recede on One Side?

If you notice that your gums are only receding on one side of your mouth, there may be a few reasons for this happening. The simplest explanation is that plaque has only built upon that side or that particular mouth area.

You may just have brushed or flossed more thoroughly on one side of your mouth than the other. Or it may just be a coincidence that plaque got trapped on that side of your mouth.

Another possibility is that an abnormal wear pattern led to plaque being trapped on just one side. For example, if you have a misaligned bite or crooked teeth, your gums won’t be affected the same way on both sides.

What Causes Gums to Recede on a Single Tooth?

Gums can recede on a single tooth for the same reasons listed above. Another possible explanation is trauma. Maybe this tooth or area of the mouth was injured or experienced a severe abrasion.

Abrasive food or an outside force may have injured your gum in that area. Gums can have trouble healing, and the injury may cause them to recede.

Are Receding Gums a Concern?

Yes. If your gums are receding, swelling or bleeding, call us to book an appointment as soon as possible. We can determine what’s causing the recession or other symptoms and discuss a treatment plan. If gum disease is the issue, it’s important to start treatment as soon as possible.

The sooner you come in to resolve the problem, the better. If you come into our office early on, you may only need a deep cleaning and maybe some antibiotics. However, if you wait and allow the problem to progress, you may wind up needing a gum graft.

How to Prevent Gum Recession

The best way to prevent gum recession is to visit our office for regular teeth cleanings. Cleanings are one of the most effective ways to keep your gums healthy. Therefore, we recommend that our patients come in for a cleaning twice per year.

Cleanings remove plaque and tartar build-up, leaving you with a fresh, clean smile.

Tips to making sure that you’re taking care of your teeth:

  • Brush at least twice per day
  • Floss at least once per day
  • Be gentle when brushing and use a soft-bristled brush

We can also explain how to brush your teeth properly during your regular dental visits and ensure no underlying issues that may cause gum recession.

Other ways to prevent gum recession include:

  • Avoiding tobacco products (chewing tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, etc.). Tobacco can leave plaque residue on the enamel of your teeth, which can be challenging to remove and eventually lead to gum recession and increase your susceptibility to oral cancer.
  • Consider orthodontics if you have crooked teeth or a bite issue. Correcting these issues can help prevent abnormal wear patterns that lead to tartar build-up that causes gum recession.
  • Get help for teeth grinding or clenching. A mouthguard can help correct issues with clenching and grinding. However, if left untreated, this habit can also lead to other problems like TMD.

Coming in for your regular dental exams is the best way to prevent gum recession and dental emergencies so the doctor can help find solutions for any issues or habits that may be contributing to your gums receding.

Can You Treat Receding Gums?

Yes. In many cases, gum recession is caused by gum disease. In this case, we’ll need to remove the disease to resolve the problem.

A deep cleaning will allow us to remove the plaque and tartar build-up between your teeth and gums. Once removed, your gums will have a chance to heal.

Depending on the situation, we may also use a laser treatment to stimulate gum tissue growth.

In cases of severe gum recession, you may need a gum graft.

What is Gum Grafting?

Gum grafting can help prevent further gum recession and cover sensitive areas of the teeth that have become exposed.

The process involves placing new gum tissue in areas where the gum has receded. Inmost cases, the tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth, but it can also come from other sources and treatment can be done with or without sedation.

The area is numbed first so that you don’t experience any discomfort. Once the tissue has been removed and placed, the site is stitched up using ultra-fine suturing material.

During the healing process, your body will form new blood vessels that will grow into the graft. Eventually, that piece of tissue will become a part of your gums.

Successful grafts can help prevent further gum recession and even help with issues like tooth sensitivity.

How Does Laser Periodontal Therapy Work?

Laser therapy can be used to help stimulate gum growth at periodontal specialty clinics. The laser works by removing inflamed gum tissue around the root of the tooth. Plaque and tartar build-up can then be removed around the gumline. Special tools are then used to smooth rough areas of the tooth near the gums.

Once the process is complete, your gums will have a chance to heal and tighten up around the teeth.

What Happens if Gum Recession is Left Untreated?

If your gums are receding and you don’t fix the problem, you could lose your teeth. Most cases of gum recession are caused by gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth and bone loss.

Visit our office so you can learn from our staff how to prevent these complications and protect your teeth.

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Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu - Dentist at Lighthouse Dental Centre and Blue Water Dental
Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu

With nearly two decades of experience, Dr. Sidhu enjoys helping his patients learn about dentistry. Knowledge is meant to be improved, challenged and shared.

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