Receding gums occur when the root surfaces of teeth become exposed. It is a common condition in adults over the age of 40. For many people, receding gums are a natural sign of aging caused by years of vigorous teeth brushing. However, receding gums can also be a sign of a larger medical problem. Red, swollen, and receding gums are a sign of gingivitis. When plaque builds up and irritates gums, it can destroy the gums as they separate from the tooth. This can create pockets where bacteria fester and cause more problems like peritonitis. Gums can also recede when teeth or crowns are crooked or misaligned. 

Preventing Receding Gums

While receding gums are normal for older adults, there are preventive measures to ensure the lifelong health of your gums. The following preventive techniques are recommended by the California Dental Association:

  • use a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • use mild to moderate pressure when brushing
  • use small circular or back-and-forth strokes when brushing

If receding gums are caused by crooked or misaligned teeth or crowns, the first step is usually to straighten the teeth to prevent further problems.

In cases of severe gum damage, a doctor can graft tissue over an exposed root of a tooth to prevent further gum recession.