Receding gums: can they be fixed?

Written by: Dr Neesha Patel
Edited by: Lisa Heffernan

Receding gums refers to a progressive loss of gum tissue, which can lead to tooth root exposure if it isn’t treated. Gum recession in the early stages can be difficult to diagnose because it can cause no symptoms and happens very gradually. Dr Neesha Patel, a specialist periodontist talks more about receding gums and how they can be healed.

A women is smiling stood against a purple wall.

You may have receding gums if:

  • You have sensitive teeth; receding gums expose the cementum that protects the teeth, when it’s exposed, gums become more sensitive to hot and cold.
  • You can see your roots: this means you probably have a more severe stage of gum recession
  • If you have longer teeth with black triangles: when teeth lose gum tissue, more of the tooth is exposed, making teeth look longer and creating bigger spaces between the teeth that can look like black triangles.
  • You have bleeding gums
  • You have bad breath


Are some people more prone to receding gums than others?

  • Those who don’t maintain good dental hygiene are more at risk. Someone with poor dental hygiene may be unaware that they have receding gums as their gums will be swollen and inflamed, hiding the recession. However, when they begin to clean their teeth and the swelling and inflammation goes down, the recession can be seen.
  • Those who smoke are also at an increased risk. Smoking is the biggest cause of periodontal disease that destroys the gums, bone and periodontal ligaments that hold teeth in their place, leading to gum recession. Smokers also respond less well to intervention and are more likely to get infections.
  • Those with systemic diseases like uncontrolled diabetes are more at risk, because uncontrolled blood glucose levels can cause damage to the gums, leading to gum disease and receding gums as a result.
  • Those with periodontal disease or gum disease; this affects the gums and bone that holds teeth in place and can lead to receding gums.
  • Brushing teeth too much or too hard can wear away gum tissue.
  • People with oral piercings of the tongue, lips or cheek are more likely to suffer from receding gums due to abrasion from the piercings and the higher likelihood of infections.
  • Previous orthodontic treatment such as braces can cause gums to recede because teeth are pushed against the thin bone surrounding them.


Is there a natural way to heal receding gums?

The treatment for receding gums depends on the cause. The cause of gum recession must be addressed first. If receding gums is caused by over brushing, then using a softer toothbrush will help. If you have poor dental hygiene, it’s important to visit a dental hygienist for a teeth cleaning.

Severe periodontal disease, where plaque and tartar has built up will need scaling and root planning to heal the gingival inflammation and clean the teeth. Sometimes surgical treatment will be needed, depending on the severity of the gum recession. A gum graft is a procedure used to cover an exposed tooth root with grafted oral tissue. This can make your smile look more aesthetically pleasing and restore symmetry and health to your gums. The three most commonly used types of gum grafts are:

  • Free gingival graft: used to thicken gum tissue. Tissue is removed from the palate and relocated to the receding gums.
  • Subepithelial connective tissue graft: used to cover exposed roots. Connective tissue is removed from the outer layer of the palate and used to build up the receding gum roots.
  • Acellular dermal matrix allograft: donated human tissue is used as a graft, so no donor site needs to be used to build up the new gum tissue.

Gum grafting has many benefits, other than restoring your smile. It reduces tooth sensitivity, by covering exposed roots. Teeth are less sensitive to hot and cold when gum tissue is less exposed. Periodontal disease can destroy gum tissue quickly and gum grafts can help to stop gum recession and prevent further damage to tooth roots and the gums.

While gum grafts might be needed in cases of severe gum disease, you can take measures yourself such as using a softer tooth brush and regularly visiting your dentist for a teeth cleaning. If you attend dental check-ups regularly, you can catch any dental problems you have at an early stage and do something about them.


If you’d like to know more about receding gums or you’d like to make an appointment with a periodontist today, visit Dr Neesha Patel’s profile and schedule a visit.

By Dr Neesha Patel

Dr Neesha Patel is a leading consultant periodontist in London who is also the Clinical Director at Pure Periodontics clinic. She specialises in laser periodontics and all aspects of gum health including receding gum, gum disease and gummy smile treatment.

Dr Patel has worked in both general practice and hospital settings, including restorative dentistry and oral and maxillofacial surgery. She gained postgraduate qualifications from the FGDP of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and has since gained a Masters in Clinical Dentistry (Periodontics) from Queen Mary University with distinction.

She also successfully completed the Membership in Restorative Dentistry of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh examination and was awarded specialist status by the General Dental Council. Dr Patel lectures extensively on continuing education courses and newly-qualified dentists.

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