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What Makes Gums Recede?

Gums are the tissue lining the roots of your teeth and surrounding bone. When healthy, it’s a barrier from bacteria attacking your teeth. The bone and root are firmly attached to each other. The gums can withdraw over time exposing your teeth to bacterial buildup. Because the gums withdraw gradually, it is difficult to spot. Receding gums can compromise dental hygiene, so it’s important to spot recession early on. Your dentist will have recommendations to address the problem, and some are discussed below.

Dental causes

Poor habits such as insufficient care in brushing and flossing teeth can contribute to receding gums. The position of your teeth and bite alignment as well as teeth grinding from stress encourages gum recession. The force applied by teeth clenching may be more stress than your gums can handle. Overcrowding of teeth leaves the gums spread thinly at the root. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a bacterial attack that is detrimental to your gums’ health. If you suffer from receding gums, your dentist may ask you to visit frequently to monitor and perform a deep cleaning of your mouth.

Take care to avoid overcompensating by brushing teeth using too much force or for too long. Doing so will cause trauma to the gums, which will have the effect of causing your gums to pull back. Flossing using too much strength has a similar effect.

Lifestyle choices that affect your gums

The tobacco in cigarettes adheres to the surface of your teeth. This sticky material attracts bacteria and is not easily removed with regular brushing. Bacteria in your mouth encourages tooth decay and gum disease.

Lip and tongue piercings have ends that introduce a hard material to the soft tissue in your mouth. When speaking or eating, the piercings rub against your tongue and gums, causing the tissue to wear away.

Predispositions to gum loss

The hormones present in the body can actually affect the gum line. Times like puberty, pregnancy, or menopause are linked to periods of gum recession. Similarly, those who suffer from diabetes are more prone to receding gums. Finally, the steps taken for good dental hygiene may not do much to prevent gum recession. A study has shown that up to 30% of receding gums are actually genetic. Some of us are born with gums that provide insufficient coverage and cannot tolerate everyday stresses.


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Our governing College, Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) has advised dentists that they strongly recommend that all non-essential and elective dental services should be suspended immediately. Public safety is our number one concern. We need to put our patients’ interests and the safety of the community, first. Ontario has declared a state of emergency, and the Canadian government is strongly urging all Canadians to practice social distancing.

Dental hygiene services in a time of a "pandemic" are not considered emergency or essential services. Our College has advised that we postpone all appointments for Hygiene scaling/cleanings until further notice. We may however, be open for EMERGENCIES. We ask that you call one of our offices to schedule this, and to be pre-screened.

What is the definition of an essential service?

In dentistry, a “true emergency situation” includes oral-facial trauma, significant infection, prolonged bleeding or pain which cannot be managed by over-the-counter medications.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we are here for you and want to help. Please call our offices to speak with one of our representatives who will be able to screen and advise you accordingly.  CONSULTATIONS OVER THE PHONE will be available with the Doctor, if needed.

This strong recommendation to suspend non-essential services, is being followed in interest of the public, our patients and our Team. We all need to act in a socially responsible manner. The College will revisit this recommendation in the first week of April. We will continue to keep you up to date.

Stay safe, and healthy.

Drs. Jim Argyropoulos, Robert Polese, Ari Voudouris & Associates