Harmful Dental Habits: What Causes Receding Gums And What You Can Do About It

You might think that if you’re doing your due diligence by brushing daily, you don’t have to worry at all about your dental health. The truth is, however, that some small harmful dental habits can actually lead to gum recession, even when you are a diligent brusher.

Gum recession is more common than you might think, and, unlike a simple cavity, it is difficult to repair. Here is what you need to know about what causes receding gums and what you can do to prevent it.


In some cases, those with receding gums are not at all to blame for the condition; these individuals are genetically predisposed to gum recession and need to take special care to protect the gums. However, many people who have receding gums get them because of some simple bad habits.

Brushing Too Hard

Brushing your teeth is essential to achieving excellent oral health. However, some people brush aggressively, feeling like the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will be. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A soft brush with gentle pressure is all that is needed to clean teeth properly.

When you brush too aggressively, you stress your soft tissue at the gum line. As a natural method of self-preservation, the tissue starts to toughen and curl away from the tooth as it tries to repair the damage from hard brushing.

If you’re really concerned about getting your teeth clean, extend your brushing time to two full minutes and stay on top of brushing every morning and evening. Some people who habitually brush too hard do so to compensate for forgetting to brush the night before.

Clenching Your Teeth

Do you catch yourself setting your jaw at random times throughout the day? Is there tension in your facial joints, or do you frequently get headaches? These symptoms are evidence that you could be clenching your teeth without even really realizing it.

Your teeth and jaws are not meant to be clenched continually. The persistent downward pressure in not only hard on your enamel, but it also places unnecessary strain on your gums. Over time, they begin to recede.

In reality, your teeth should only really touch with force when you are eating. The rest of the time, even when talking, your mouth should remain relatively relaxed. If you catch yourself clenching your teeth when angry, concentrating, reading, or watching a movie, make the conscious effort to relax your mouth.

Grinding Your Teeth

Finally, grinding your teeth can also be a factor that affects gum recession. You may grind your molars subconsciously or when sleeping, but either way tooth grinding has a similar effect on the gums as clenching your teeth.

Poor Hygiene

Finally, many people can experience gum recession as a consequence of in attention to normal brushing and flossing. Flossing is especially neglected, even by regular brushers. Some stop flossing because it feels painful or because it causes the gums to bleed, but bleeding gums are actually an early sign of gum disease.

When gum disease sets in, pockets full of bacteria form beneath the gum line. As these pockets become infected, the gum tissue is injured and recession naturally occurs as the disease progresses.


Fortunately, even if you’re genetically disposed to gum recession, there are some easy things you can do to prevent it:

  • Talk to your dentist about mouth guards. If you know you clench or grind your teeth at night, discuss guard options to help decrease the negative side effects.
  • Stay on top of your flossing routine. Flossing (gently) keeps you gums healthy.
  • Always choose the softest bristle options for your toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes can also help is you’re an aggressive brusher.
  • Focus on moving your toothbrush in a circular or diagonal pattern instead of side to side or up and down. You will hit your gums at a more favorable angle.

If you already have trouble and pain because of receding gums, talk to us at Beck Pearce Dental about restoration options. We offer the latest innovative treatments for all dental needs