4 Causes of Gum Recession and How to Stop It

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Perhaps you have heard the phrase that when one gets older, they also get “long in the tooth”? But did you know that gum recession can affect people of all ages, and is NOT a normal sign of aging.

Your gums are the layer of “skin” that cover the bones of the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible). Gum tissue should stay strong and high on the teeth as long as the underlying jaw bone is intact.  Gum recession occurs because the bone that supports the gum tissue has been lost, even if to a minor degree.

Gum recession is caused by one or more of these 4 things, and often a combination of them:

Periodontal disease (advanced gum disease)

Bruxism (clenching and grinding the teeth)



To stop our gums from receding it is important to understand how gum disease affects the hard and soft tissues of the jaw.

Periodontal (Gum) disease:

Gum disease is extremely common.  The Journal of Dental Research states that 47% of 30-year-olds and over 70% of 65-year-olds have periodontal disease.

The ‘bad bugs’ that cause gum disease not only directly destroy bone tissue, but they also cause our immune system to go on ‘full alert’.  Our immune system tries to stop the infection by creating inflammation in the localized region.  When the infection becomes chronic, inflammation contributes to a breakdown of the gum tissues and jaw bone.
Bruxism (grinding and clenching)

Habitual clenching and grinding our teeth most definitely leads to a breakdown of the strength and structure of the jaws and gum tissue. Researchers are finding that night grinding is very strongly associated with mild sleep apnea.

Whatever the cause of bruxism, it’s clear that habitually clenching and grinding our teeth most definitely leads to a breakdown of the strength and structure of the jaws.


Proper tooth brushing techniques are very important to avoid gum recession. Gums and teeth like to be massaged. They like to be stimulated.  But they don’t like to be scrubbed away with a toothbrush. Improper use of an oral irrigation device, or improper flossing can also cause gum recession. 


The thickness of the facial jaw bones and gum tissue varies due to ones’ genetics.  Just like we are all born with variations like thicker skull bones, fine or thick hair, etc. how thin your jaw bone and gum tissue is has a genetic component.  

The layer of bone tissue on the facial (outside) surface is very, very thin and even non-existent in some. The thinness of jaw bone tissue on the facial (outer) side of our teeth plays a very key role in understanding what causes gum recession.


The best way to avoid gum recession is by practicing good oral hygiene. Knowing why good oral hygiene is so important, how to properly brush your teeth and why and how to use The Plaque Buster are all excellent steps toward increasing our knowledge of how to disrupt and disorganize the ‘bad bugs’.

The germs that cause gum disease form colonies under the gum line and between the molars. Effective and daily brushing will break up this bacteria’s colonization efforts.

A good brushing technique focuses on disrupting and removing the bacteria that accumulate along and under the gum line as well as between the teeth. Power toothbrushes do a great job of breaking up the bacterial colonies, while also stimulating and massaging the gum tissue. Many periodontists, or gum specialists, recommend the Phillips Sonicare toothbrush because it is shaped like a normal toothbrush and is safe and gentle to the gums. If using a manual toothbrush, one should use the Bass Technique of brushing – and avoid scrubbing back and forth, which can cause wear and tear and trauma to the gum tissues.

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While brushing properly is great, even the best brushing not remove the plaque between the teeth. Flossing is one way to remove plaque between the teeth, because it eliminates food particles that get caught in places a toothbrush can't reach.  Many people find using dental floss is a challenge for reasons ranging from manual dexterity to difficulty using it with braces. A great alternative to floss is The Plaque Buster. The Plaque Buster allows for better maneuverability in between teeth than floss.
How to use: Insert the tip at the gumline between each tooth and wiggle the tip to stimulate your gums and remove plaque. Use on both the inner and outer surfaces of your teeth. The tip can also be gently traced around each tooth at the gumline to massage and stimulate the gums, and remove plaque from the gumline. The Plaque Buster should be wiped off or rinsed under water to remove food debris and plaque. 

The Plaque Buster should be used at least once or twice a day in conjunction with a good toothbrushing technique to remove plaque from along the gumline and in between the teeth.


Penelope NowlingComment