How to Prevent Receding Gums

Three Parts:Understanding the CausesMaintaining Your Oral HygieneMaking Lifestyle Changes

Gingival recession is the upward movement of your gums, such that it leaves the root area of your teeth exposed and visible. Receding gums usually occur in adults over the age of 40. It poses a problem when it compromises aesthetic appearance and causes dentin hypersensitivity. To prevent receding gums, you will need to avoid the causes.

Part 1
Understanding the Causes

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    Understand that periodontal diseases can lead to receding gums. Plaque is the ultimate cause of gum disease. It causes inflammation of gums (gingivitis).
    • However, if it involves other supporting structures of the teeth then the disease is called periodontitis. One of the consequences of periodontal disease is receding gums.
    • Plaque along your gum line causes the gum to become inflamed and move away from the teeth, causing it to shrink or to recede.[1]
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    Be aware that faulty tooth brushing is a cause of receding gums. Brushing your teeth in a rigorous horizontal (back and forth) manner can cause trauma to your gums, causing them to recede over time.
    • Rigorous brushing can wear away the enamel (the hard tissue covering the tooth crown) near the gum line.
    • Gums are considered to be soft tissues, making them more vulnerable to heavy toothbrushing pressure.[2]
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    Know that misaligned teeth and gingival biotype can lead to receding gums. Having misaligned or crowded teeth may warrant orthodontic treatment. Gingival biotype refers to the thickness of your gums, which differs from one person to another. These two factors cannot be avoided but they can be treated.
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    Be aware that bruxism is a risk factor. Grinding your teeth is referred to as bruxism. A lot of people who suffer from bruxism may not be even aware that they are unconsciously grinding their teeth even at night. This not only damages the muscles involved in chewing, but also leads to gum recession.[3]

Part 2
Maintaining Your Oral Hygiene

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    Understand why oral hygiene can prevent your gums from receding. Excellent oral hygiene can prevent plaque-induced gingivitis and other gum diseases because it keeps the bacteria off the gum line and teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene involves regular visits to the dentist for professional cleaning coupled with effective brushing and flossing at home.
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    Schedule regular appointments with your dentist. Visit the dentist twice a year (every 6 months) for professional cleaning (scaling and polishing).
    • Scaling performed by dentists removes plaque that cannot be removed or reached by your toothbrush alone.
    • Polishing teeth surfaces after scaling gives the teeth a very smooth finish which makes it difficult for plaque to adhere to the surfaces of teeth.
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    Brush your teeth twice a day. Brush your teeth at least twice daily to prevent gum and periodontal disease. The bristles of your toothbrush can actually go 1 mm below your gum line and can remove plaque that gets stuck in there.
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    Employ proper toothbrushing techniques. The best brushing technique is the modified Bass technique. This method enables the bristles to go a millimeter below the gum line and remove the plaque stuck there. Moreover, it does not traumatize the gums but rather massages them.[4]
    • To do the modified Bass technique, tilt the head of your toothbrush in a 45-degree angle towards the gum line. When you start employing the brushing strokes, this direction does not damage the gum line.
    • Once you have properly oriented your brush, do small circular vibratory strokes. Be gentle in brushing, as rigorous brushing could damage your gums. Do about 20 strokes in one position before moving on to the other surfaces of your teeth.
    • After doing 20 strokes, do a sweeping motion towards the biting surfaces of your teeth to move the plaque out. Do a back and forth horizontal movement to clean the biting surfaces of your teeth.
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    Floss your teeth every day. Flossing should go hand in hand with brushing. This further removes plaque that was not reached by the bristles of your toothbrush.
    • For effective flossing, get an elbow-length of floss and wrap both ends around your middle fingers. Leave an inch of floss that you can work with.
    • Starting from the back tooth, slide the floss very gently in between your teeth with the help of your index fingers. Do not force the thread to go down, otherwise this can cause damage to your gums.
    • Repeat the same procedure for all your teeth, taking care not to damage your gums.

Part 3
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Stop smoking. Studies have shown that smoking can cause a lot of pressing problems to general health. It can also cause a lot of dental problems, one of which is receding gums.[5]
    • Smoking affects the mucus membrane lining of gums, thereby causing gum recession.
    • Try using nicotine substitutes, such as nicotine patches and gums instead.
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    Do not get oral piercings. Metal jewelry placed inside the mouth does not only cause problems with your teeth but also affects the gums.
    • The barbel of tongue and lip piercings tends to hit the gum line repeatedly, and the trauma caused by this ultimately leads to gum recession.[6]
    • If you do decide to go ahead and get an oral piercing, make sure that the piercing shop observes excellent sanitary conditions.
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    Consult your dentist. Your dentist can pinpoint the cause of receding gums and give you advice on treatment. If you have misaligned or crowded teeth, you might require orthodontic treatment.
    • If you notice that you are suffering from bruxism your dentist can fabricate a night guard for you to use. This protects your teeth, muscles and TMJ from the damage that is caused by grinding your teeth.


  • In order to prevent gingival recession, you should understand that it is caused by a combination of different factors. The effect of the causes is cumulative, so gum recession does not happen overnight.

Sources and Citations

  1. Danesh-Meyer, M. (2012). Gingival recession: should we be worried about the future? Australian Dental Practice, 23(1), 64-66.
  2. (2013). Gum recession. Oral Health - Indian Dental Association, 7(7), 8-11.
  3. (2012) Oral habits and dental damage. Oral Health, 6(7), 22-23.
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Categories: Teeth and Mouth