A beautiful woman holding a toothbrush, smiling and showing the top gum of her mouth.

Gum Recession: Can You Stop It?

Just like there are different components of teeth, there are different types of soft tissue or gum in your mouth. In fact, the mouth contains two main types of gum. The thick firm tissue that borders healthy teeth and a thin mucosa that lines our lips and cheeks.

Thick and Thin Gum

The thick gum around teeth is called keratinized tissue. Healthy keratinized tissue is tightly bound down, forming a band and making it tough and strong. This helps it stand up the trauma of food when chewing and toothbrush bristles during cleaning.

The other type is called mucosa, it is thin and loose. It can be damaged or hurt easily. Keratinized tissue forms a type of band or seal around the teeth. Once that seal is broken and gum recession passes past the edge of the keratinized tissue band, the recession can progress very quickly.

If the keratinized tissue is gone, there is only thin mucosa next to the tooth. This is painful because this type of tissue is too delicate to stand up to the forces of eating and brushing.

Causes of Recession

Gum recession can be caused by any combination of factors. Some causes of the condition are a history of periodontal disease, aggressive tooth brushing, trauma, tooth position or a change in tooth position from orthodontic treatment. Even pulls from muscle attachments of your lips and cheeks can cause the recession.

Protecting Your Teeth

Some tips to prevent gum recession include the following:

  • Control of and early diagnosis of periodontal disease through regular checkups.
  • Periodontal charting (where you hear your dentist or hygienist call out many different numbers that are the pocket depth measurements in “mm”).
  • Cleanings with your dental provider.

For at home prevention, you can use a soft toothbrush or soft toothbrush head for the electric toothbrush that is gentle on your gums. Use of over the counter or prescription toothpaste that do not contain coarse abrasives is also recommended. Coarse abrasives can brush away or harm your gums.

Unfortunately, once gum recession occurs, there is no more keratinized tissue around the teeth. The only way to reverse it is through gum grafting procedures. If you already have this condition, you should take steps to prevent further recession and speak to your periodontist or dentist about treatment options.


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