Oral Health and Genetic Risk Factors

3 Lesser Known Causes Of Receding Gums

Nobody likes the pain and misery that comes with a badly receding gum line, so it's a safe bet that a lot of you will have done your research and know the most common causes of this condition. Gum disease, smoking, brushing your teeth too hard, or brushing with a stiff bristled brush are all among the most common causes of gum recession. But what if you practise excellent oral hygiene and your gums are still receding?

There are other, hidden causes of receding gums, and you might not even know if they affect you. These are less common than the usual causes, but no less serious for that, and going too long without seeing a dentist and trying to mitigate these causes can lead to infection, considerable pain and even loss of teeth. Here are three potential causes of your receding gum line:


As with so many other things in life, the state of your gums may be heavily affected by the genetic lottery. If your gums are receding, you might do well to look into your family history; children of parents who suffered from gum recession often inherit the condition themselves. This may manifest itself as:

  • abnormally thin gums coating the bases of your teeth
  • gum tissue that is more fragile than normal at the cellular level
  • improper positioning of teeth inherited from parents

Sadly, there's not much you can do about the first two causes, unless you're a billionaire willing to shell out for gene therapy. Keep practising excellent dental hygiene, and inform your dentist that there might be a genetic cause. The third cause should lessen significantly (or even be cured) if you undergo positioning correction procedures, such as braces. Your dentist will be able to tell if your teeth are positioned improperly during any routine checkup.

Hormonal imbalance

Improper or fluctuating oestrogen levels can cause increased rates of gum recession. Obviously, this problem is most likely to affect women, but oestrogen is present in male bodies too, and hormonal imbalance can be just as serious for them. It's particularly likely that this cause of gum recession will strike during the menopause, as oestrogen levels are drastically reduced. 

Doctors and dentists remain uncertain on how hormonal imbalance and gum recession are linked. The good news is that this kind of recession is generally rather slow. The bad news is that it carries with it other symptoms, such as inflammation and increased gum sensitivity. This can make you understandably reluctant to seek treatment -- when touching your gums with a fingertip is painful, you're hardly likely to want a drill stuck in it. In any case, seek a dentist's advice, and don't let any pain discourage you from continuing your hygiene regimen. (You may find that sensitive toothpaste and mouthwash helps, as well as particularly soft-bristled brushes.)


Yes, that disease you associate with 17th century pirates living on maggoty bread is still around, and it is surprisingly common in developed countries. Scurvy is a serious, even fatal condition caused by chronic vitamin C deficiency, and severe gum recession (along with bleeding from the gums and a soft, 'spongy' feeling to the gum tissue) is one of the first warning signs.

You may wonder how getting scurvy is even possible in the modern first world, but there are a number of reasons you might be more vulnerable to it. Heavy smoking can inhibit the body's ability to absorb vitamin C, as can gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Older people or people living in poverty may be left at risk by lack of variety in their diets -- the same goes for fad dieters, especially people on the Atkins diet.

Obviously, if you do have scurvy, receding gums are really the least of your problems. However, if a bout with scurvy has left your gums damaged, your dentist might recommend limited reconstruction, to protect vulnerable roots and gums left exposed by the rapid damage. For more information, contact a dental specialist like Ryde Dental Care.