Recessed Gums Could Endanger Your Teeth

A “toothy grin” might be endearing but not necessarily healthy. More teeth showing may mean your gums have pulled back or receded from the teeth that are called gum recession. If so, it’s not just your smile that suffers—the parts of teeth protected by the gums could become more susceptible to disease.

Periodontal (Gum) Disease

There are a number of causes of gum recession. Because of genetically thinner gum tissues, some people are more likely to experience it. Over-aggressive brushing could also contribute to recession. But the most common cause of it is periodontal (gum) disease, a bacterial infection triggered by dental plaque accumulating on teeth mainly due to inadequate hygiene.

We can do some things to help heal and restore recessed gums, most importantly, treat gum disease. The number one goal of treatment is to uncover and remove all dental plaque from tooth and gum surfaces, which can take several sessions and sometimes minor surgery if the infection has reached the tooth roots. But removing plaque and tartar (calcified plaque) is necessary to stop the infection and allow the gums to heal.

Grafting Surgery

This may be enough for the gums to regain normal coverage for a mild gum recession. But in more severe cases, we may need to help rejuvenate new tissue with grafting surgery. In these highly meticulous procedures, a surgeon uses microscopic techniques to position and attach donated tissue to the gum recession site. The graft serves as a scaffold on which new tissue growth can occur.

While these treatments can be effective for reversing gum recession, they often require time, skill, and expense. It’s much better to prevent gum recession—and gum disease—in the first place. Prevention begins with daily brushing and flossing to prevent plaque buildup and regular dental visits for more thorough cleanings. Be on the lookout, too, for any signs of a beginning gum infection like swollen, reddened, or bleeding gums, and see your dentist as soon as possible to minimize any damage to your gums.


Caring for your gums is equally as important as caring for your teeth. Healthy gums equal a healthy mouth—and an attractive smile.

If you would like more information on preventing gum recession, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gum Recession.”