Receding Gums

What Causes It And How To Prevent It

Oral health concernsHopefully, after reading our various blog posts about gum disease and checking in with our hygienist, most of our Epsom patients are aware of the need to pay attention to gum health, equally as much as they do for their teeth.

Good gum health will help to protect your teeth and also avoid the soreness and bleeding often associated with gingivitis and periodontitis, the two main types and degrees of gum disease.

When it comes to gum health, there is an issue which sometimes affects us and mostly happens over a period of time. Because of this, people often don’t notice it is happening until somebody else points it out to them. This is the issue of receding gums.

Why is it an issue?

The most obvious thing that happens when your gums recede is that it reveals more of the tooth and can make your teeth look longer than normal, producing a ‘toothy’ affect. As getting older is one of the things that can contribute to this, it is probably no surprise to learn that this is where the phrase ‘long in the tooth’ comes from.

When our gums recede it is the root part of the tooth which is exposed. This is less well protected than the crown of the teeth (the part that usually shows above the gum line) and patients in this situation are more likely to experience sensitive teeth and are also at a higher risk of decay in the exposed area.

Whilst we can do nothing about getting older, gum recession can be prevented, or at least significantly slowed down, through making sure that we look after our gums and also avoid habits that contribute to our gums receding.

Healthy gums

The main priority to prevent receding gums should be to keep them healthy. Healthy gum tissue is less susceptible to erosion and this is important in helping to protect your teeth. Diligent brushing, the use of dental floss and regular scale and polishes by the hygienist at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic should help to achieve this goal.

Excessive brushing

It is very important to brush both your teeth and the gum line. What you should not do though, is to brush too hard. Some might be tempted to use extra force if their teeth are stained or discoloured but this will only damage the tooth enamel and cause the gum tissue to wear away. Gentle circular brushing for 2 minutes is all that is necessary. If you are concerned about the colour of your teeth, please ask us about the teeth whitening treatments that we offer. These will whiten your teeth but not compromise the enamel and gums.

It is worth mentioning that parents should check that their children are not brushing too hard as well, as receding gums can affect us at any age. Whilst, for most, it might be more of an effort to actually get them to clean their teeth, others may tend to scrub them too hard. Gently correcting them at an early age will hopefully change the ‘scrubbing’ habit for the rest of their life.

Teeth grinding

If you are feeling stressed, it may be that you are subconsciously grinding your teeth at night. This can lead to a number of problems with the teeth such as cracked or fractured teeth which can lead to decay and additional sensitivity. The force sometimes applied when grinding the teeth can also have an impact on your gums as well. If you are already aware that you do this, please mention this to one of our dental team for further advice. There is also a risk that you may not be aware that you are doing this until some damage has already been done. Providing that you have regular oral examinations at our Epsom practice, we will be able to detect the signs at an early stage and offer our advice on how to reduce this fairly common problem.


Although there is a lot that we can do to avoid our gums receding, for some people, it is the case that they were born with thinner gums, making them more prone to erosion. If you’ve inherited this from your parents, it makes sense to look after your gums as well as possible to help delay the onset of any problems.

Whilst there are treatments, such as a gum graft, that can help to correct this problem, it is much better to try to avoid it in the first place. Good oral care at home and professional supervision will reduce the risk of this happening to you. So please make sure that you have regular appointments to see one of our dentists and if you haven’t, please arrange one by calling the Clock Tower Dental Clinic on 01372 720136. Our team looks forward to helping you to gain and then maintain great oral health!