Gum Recession

GUM Recession - What you Need to Know

Gingival recession, also known as receding gums, is a periodontal condition that results in the exposure of the roots of the teeth caused by a loss of gum tissue and or retraction of the gum tissue around the crown of the teeth. Gum recession is a common problem in adults over the age of 40, but it may also occur starting from the age of a teenager, or around the age of 10. If you have been told you have gum recession, you’re not alone. An estimated 50% of American adults currently have some form of the condition whose signs and symptoms include:

  • Cold sensivity around a tooth or teeth

  • Root exposure of the underlying tooth

  • Red or swollen gum margins

  • Tender or bleeding gums

  • Pain when consuming acidic foods or drinks (Citrus, Soda)



  • The most common cause is gum disease. Inadequate brushing and flossing allows bacteria to build up between the teeth and below the gumline, which leads to painless, chronic inflammation of the gums and gradual recession.

  • Overaggressive brushing, which causes the enamel at the gum line to be worn away over time by scrubbing the sides of the teeth in a scrubbing fashion or using a hard or extra hard toothbrush

  • Improper flossing such as flossing too aggressively may cut into the gums

  • Hereditary thin, fragile or insufficient gingival tissue predisposes you to gingival recession.

  • Excessive clenching and grinding of the teeth called bruxism

  • Dipping tobacco use will cause receding gums over time

  • Adult orthodontic movement of teeth.

  • Piercings in the lip or tongue that wear away the gum by rubbing against it.

Can This be Repaired?

Yes, depending on the severity and extend of the recession, a gum graft may be able to partially or even fully repair the damage to the gum and bone caused by the gum recession.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this need to be fixed?

Not always. Some gum recession while unsightly does not need to be repaired unless it is getting progressively worse, causing bleeding or gum ulceration. We generally will measure and document the amount of recession to see if it gets worse over time. Usually we re-evaluate on a yearly basis. If it gets worse or is threatening the longevity of your tooth we will recommend reparative action be taken in the form of a gum graft.

How is the Procedure Done?

It takes about 60 to 90 minutes to complete a gum graft. The graft site is throughly numbed with local anesthetic. The tooth root is cleaned and a few micro-incisions are made to position the gum to accept the graft. A piece of gum is removed from the roof of the mouth and placed into the area of recession. Finally, some tiny sutures are placed to cover the graft and secure it in position to allow the graft to heal into place where the recession was.

Does it Hurt?

We use a local anesthetic to numb all the areas that are worked on. After the procedure, we wil advise you how to remain comfortable during the healing phase.

How Long will it take to heal?

Initial healing will take about 10 to 14 days to take place. It will take about 6 months for full gum maturation to complete.

I don't want tissue taken from the roof of my mouth - What are my options?

Your own gum tissue is the best kind of gum, however it requires a donor site. Usually this donor site is the roof of the mouth, which can be somewhat uncomfortable while healing takes place. Recently, two other graft sources have been developed that do not require a donor site and therefore are less uncomfortable. The gum graft tissue comes from either human donor dermis (skin) or procine (pig) skin.

What are the Costs?

Most gum repair procedures enjoy around 80% coverage by most dental insurance companies. Typical copays range from $200 to $350. To determine the exact coverage and co-pay amounts we can send in a pretreatment estimate to your insurance company.

How do I prevent this from happening again?

Avoid using a hard or extra-hard toothbrush. Never brush your teeth in a scrubbing fashion. If you grind your teeth wear a night guard. Use a high-quality end-tufted toothbrush to clean the tooth-gum interface.

* - As with all health issues, your unique situation may be different from the general information provided on this page. The best way to determine what may be optimal for you is to come and talk to us.