What Causes Receding Gums?

What Causes Receding Gums?
Written by- https://orawellness.com/ The internet is full of misinformation around receding gums. What causes it? What can you do to make sure your gums are healthy? What can you do if your gums are already receding? Let’s start by exploring a bit of mouth anatomy to help create a foundation for this discussion on how to optimize your gum health.

Gum tissue anatomy 101

Our gums are nothing more than a layer of skin that covers the bone tissue of the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible). As long as the underlying jaw bone is intact, the gum tissue will stay strong and at healthy levels on the teeth. In other words, the only reason gums recede is because the bone that supports the gum tissue has withdrawn. So, to figure out what’s causing gum recession, we need to first take a look at the 5 main factors that cause jaw bone tissue to withdraw, or demineralize.

5 main causes of jaw demineralization

Here are the five main factors that contribute to diminishing jaw bone tissue:
  1. Periodontal disease (advanced gum disease)
  2. Bruxism (clenching and grinding the teeth)
  3. Nutritional deficiencies
  4. Trauma
  5. Genetics
The jaw bone tissue surrounds all sides of each of our teeth. Unfortunately, the layer of bone tissue on the facial (outside nearest the skin/lips) surface is very thin, and for some people, it can even be non-existent. The density of jaw bone tissue on the facial (outer) side of our teeth plays a very key role in gum recession. The demineralization process of the jawbone doesn’t occur overnight. The bone slowly loses minerals, but its overall structure remains intact. If the cause of the demineralization has been effectively addressed, as long as the ‘scaffolding’ of the jaw bone remains in place, the bone can remineralize. However, once the scaffolding-like structure of the bone also demineralizes, the gum tissue no longer has the support it needs to remain at optimal levels on the teeth. This bone loss does not immediately cause the gum to recede, but at this point, the gum tissue is very vulnerable to recession. Without the underlying support of the bone to keep it in place, any aggravation can provoke the gum tissue to recede.

How do we stop the gum recession?

We must first identify what’s causing the underlying bone to demineralize, to stop our gums from receding. One common contributing factor is general nutritional deficiency, so it is always important to ensure you are eating a healthy and balanced diet. Below are some additional reasons why gums might recede.

Gum disease

Gum disease is common in modern times. So, unless we’re sure that we don’t have it, it might be best to operate under the assumption that we have an active infection. Periodontal disease is a gum disease that has advanced to a point where the jaw bone is being compromised. You see, in the mouth, the ‘thug bugs’ implicated with gum disease not only directly destroy bone tissue, but they also cause our immune system to go on ‘full alert’. In an attempt to stop the infection, our immune system creates inflammation in the localized region. When this infection is chronic (ongoing), it leads to chronic inflammation in the area, which also contributes to a breakdown in jaw bone health.

Bruxism (grinding and clenching)

The stresses of our modern lifestyle may play a part in why some people grind their teeth, researchers are now finding that nighttime grinding is very strongly associated with mild sleep apnea.


The trauma of one accident can change the course of a person’s entire life. Overall, when we damage a bone, it commonly grows back stronger than before the trauma. However, in the case of our jaw bone, there’s so much risk of infection in or around the jaw that the common occurrence of ‘break it and it gets stronger’ doesn’t seem to apply here.


The original thickness of the facial jawbones may be a matter of genetics. Just like we are all born with variations in our skulls, the texture of our hair, etc., the density of your jaw bone may have a genetic component. Some people may even have been born with a complete lack of jaw bone tissue on the facial surface. Like we stated above, if the facial jaw bone diminishes, the gum tissue that was being supported by that bone tissue becomes more at risk of receding.
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