Receding gums (commonly misspelled as receeding gums), also known as gingival recession, describes the loss of gum tissue, potentially exposing the roots of one’s teeth. It generally happens the most to people in their 40s and older, but can sometimes start in the teen years. It is one of the main indicators of periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis, gingivitis, or gum disease).
Some causes of receding gums include:
- Brushing too hard with a toothbrush that has hard bristles. This causes the enamel by the gum line to erode.
- Periodontal disease
- Lack of adequate flossing and/or brushing. This allows bacteria / tartar buildup, which results in enzymes eating away the bone of your teeth
- Chewing tobacco. This affects the mucus membrane lining in the oral cavity and causes receding gums over a certain amount of time
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Adult orthodontic moving of the teeth
- Lip or tongue piercings can wear away the part of the gum that rubs against them
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), an ingredient that is in most toothpastes
- An uncommon cause is an adult tooth not growing out of the right place in the gum
It usually takes time for the gums to recede, and can often remain unnoticed. Some receding gums symptoms include the following:
- The teeth may be sensitive to hot, cold, sweet, sour, and spicy sensations. This is possibly because the dentin tubules might be exposed to external stimuli.
- Teeth may look longer than normal.
- Roots of the teeth may be seen.
- Tooth may feel notched at the gum line
- Teeth discoloration (due to the difference between the color of the enamel and cementum)
- Spaces appear between teeth due to the gums not being there anymore
- Cavities below gum line
NOTE: If receding gums are caused by gingivitis, you may also have these symptoms:
- Swollen/inflamed, red, or puffy gums
- Gum bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
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