Receding gums is a medical term used to describe a movement of the level of gingival edges i.e. the edge of the gum in the direction of the tip of the tooth root. It can affect more or less all existing teeth or it can be manifested only in individual teeth.
Receding gums of most or all teeth is a clinical manifestation of advanced stages of periodontal disease. After the initial stages of periodontal disease, which is characterized by an acute inflammation of the gums (the gums are red, enlarged, bleeding when eating solid food), leads to their degradation and this destruction is clinically registered as tooth root wear and they appear elongated. These defects found in gums can come in different shapes and sizes. Receding gums is accompanied by loss of soft tissue and loss of bone tissue that progresses to end-stage periodontal disease where the bone loss is so great that the patient experienced falling out of healthy teeth. So, gingival recession associated with generalized periodontitis is manifested with gum recession not only in the vestibular (outer) side of the tooth, but also in the entire soft tissue around the tooth which is more or less equally affected by the changes.
The cause of periodontal disease with all its consequences can be found primarily in dental plaque. With the accumulation of minerals in soft plaques we can witness the formation of tartar which is the main cause of gum recession and bone loss which tend to “stay away“from this irritation. Gum recession which affects individual teeth can occur in one or more teeth. It is characterized by exposing the roots of teeth from the outer side of the teeth in most cases.
Common causes of receding gums around individual teeth are:
Occlusal trauma – when the jaws are closed, some of the teeth can come into contact before other teeth. This relation is called traumatic tooth contact because it leads to trauma of the teeth. The consequences of traumatic (or early) contact are destructive changes in the gums and the bone tissue.
Poor brushing technique – Practicing horizontal movement, toothbrush with hard fiber and applying greater pressure than necessary when brushing, is defined as aggressive brushing of teeth. It results in damage of the soft tissue and gums which is manifested with the appearance of shallow defects.
Inadequate prosthetic work and dentures – Very broad crowns, prosthetic work which lead to traumatic contact etc.