Gingival Recession

We see gingival recession every day in clinical practice.  It is the most common clinical situation observed in patient populations regardless of their age and ethnicity.1  Malocclusion, occlusal trauma, chronic inflammation and poor oral hygiene encompass majority of the causation.

So what is gingival recession? Simply put, it is exposure of our root structure along the gumline.  When gum tissue is damaged or broken down, it recedes.  Why is the tooth so sensitive in these areas?  The area of root exposure lacks the layer of enamel which the rest of the tooth has as a protective barrier.  Think of your enamel as an umbrella.  Without the umbrella we would get wet and cold in a rain or wind storm.

Most people who have noticed gingival recession mention they may be "brushing too hard" or feel they were genetically inclined because their "mother/father has the same issue."  The truth is that gingival recession is caused by multiple factors.

Malocclusion plays a big role in recession.  If teeth are rotated, tipped in or even over crowded this can lead to trauma of periodontium, the tissues and bone that support the teeth, thus, causing recession.  Think of it this way, just like tires on a car, teeth wear a lot better if they are properly aligned.

Occlusal trauma from clenching or grinding your teeth may also lead to recession.  Teeth can take on over 200 pounds of pressure per square inch.  But they are not meant to constantly undergo these forces.  With constant clenching or even nocturnal grinding, the same result of bone, tissue and ligament breakdown and ultimately recession may be inevitable.

Chronic inflammation and poor oral hygiene can also play a role in recession. Proper homecare and routine dental cleanings can help alleviate progression of gum disease.  Gum disease can lead to bone, tissue and ligament breakdown in the periodontium.

What are solutions?

-Fluoride treatments - OTC (over-the-counter) desensitizing toothpastes,                 In office Fluoride Varnish treatment,                                                         Prescription strength Fluoride toothpaste


-Occlusal Guard Fabrication

-Proper Oral Hygiene and Routine Dental Cleanings



1. Jati, A.S., Furqium, L.Z., Consolaro, A. (2016) Gingival recession: its causes and types, and the importance of orthodontic treatment. Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, Vol 21(3), 18-29. Retrieved from


Megan Tipton, RDH Megan attended The University of Houston while studying Human Nutrition and Sciences. Shortly after moving from Houston to San Antonio she began dental hygiene school and graduated with an AAS in Dental Hygiene from Concorde Career College. She is very dedicated to her career and helping her patients achieve healthy smiles. She is committed to providing cutting edge, up-to-date care for her patients and tailors care to meet each of her patients’ needs. Spending time with her husband, Jeremy, family and traveling are among her favorite things to do in her time off. She also enjoys working out and trying new recipes in the kitchen

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