Gums can recede for a variety of reasons. When gums no longer cover the root of the tooth the way they were designed to, sensitivity can occur and tooth stability can be compromised. The porous roots of teeth are normally covered by gums, and are especially sensitive to temperature and touch, as the nerve endings are exposed.
The key to gum recession is prevention. Factors that cause and contribute to recession are usually abrasive brushing and gum disease. When teeth are scrubbed too hard or with a stiff bristled toothbrush, gums creep farther down the gumline. Gum disease or gingivitis also causes the tissue to become unattached from the tooth structure, due to the presence of bacteria. The result is deep pockets and gum loss around the teeth until the disease process is treated.
To prevent gum recession, brush only with soft or extra soft toothbrushes. Apply only enough pressure to cause the gums to blanch, no more. Brush gently back and forth on just two teeth at a time, not widely scrubbing back and forth. Flossing tightly around each tooth and sliding it up and down under the gums can help remove bacteria that lead to gingivitis. If bleeding occurs, it is most likely due to gingivitis…give it 2 weeks of daily care before giving up flossing.
When gum recession is severe, grafting is sometimes used as a treatment to cover the root surface. Gum tissue from another area is transplanted over the area of severe recession to relieve sensitivity and support the tooth.