What happens when gum tissue recedes?

Dan Jenkins

When the gum recedes several pathological things happen:

  1. The softer root structure is exposed.
  2. The nerves just under the surface of the root can be very sensitive to temperatures and tooth brushing.
  3. The gum receding may be associated with a loss of bone as our bodies require about 2.5 mm of gum to be above our bone around our teeth to keep bacteria out.
  4. The soft root may start to erode, wear, or dissolve away causing a "notch" in the root.
  5. Once the receding starts, it may continue depending upon what caused it (and that is another question!).

When gum tissue recedes, the root of the tooth becomes exposed. Since the root is not covered with enamel, this exposed part of the root can be sensitive to hot, cold, sweets, and touch. Since the root surface is softer than enamel, this area of the tooth is more susceptible to decay. See your dentist if your gums have receded. Your dentist may be able to prescribe fluorides to prevent decay and help with tooth sensitivity. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.