Preventing Gum Recession: Tips Beyond Gum Grafting

by Rana Baroudi

Dr. Baroudi is a Board Certified Periodontist. She has successfully passed the American Board of Periodontology oral and written examinations covering all phases of periodontal disease, its treatment and dental implants. She is also an Associate Clinical Professor of Periodontology at UCSF where she enjoys teaching and lecturing on a bi-monthly basis.

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Gum recession is a prevalent dental issue characterized by the gradual wearing away of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. As the gums recede, the tooth roots become exposed, increasing the risk of sensitivity, decay, and even tooth loss. Although gum grafting offers an effective solution for treating receding gums, the ideal approach is to prevent gum recession before it starts. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into actionable tips that can help you prevent gum recession and maintain optimal gum health, going beyond just gum grafting.

Understanding Gum Recession and Its Causes

Gum recession is a complex, multifactorial condition influenced by genetics, lifestyle habits, and overall oral hygiene. Some of the most common causes include:

  1. Periodontal Disease: A chronic bacterial infection that leads to gum inflammation and bone loss, making the gums recede.
  2. Aggressive Brushing: Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear away gum tissue, causing it to recede.
  3. Genetics: Some individuals have a genetic predisposition to thin or receding gums, making them more susceptible to gum recession.
  4. Tobacco Use: Smoking or chewing tobacco weakens the immune system and hinders gum healing, increasing the risk of gum recession.
  5. Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy, menopause, and other hormonal fluctuations can make gums more sensitive and prone to recession.
  6. Misaligned Teeth: Malocclusion, or crooked teeth, can put excessive stress on the gums, contributing to recession.
  7. Grinding or Clenching (Bruxism): The excessive pressure exerted on the teeth during grinding or clenching can damage the gums, leading to recession.

Tips to Prevent Gum Recession: A Guide by Dr. Rana Baroudi

Gum recession is a dental issue that, if left unchecked, can lead to sensitivity, decay, and even tooth loss. Dr. Rana Baroudi, a periodontist in San Jose and Harvard graduate, provides her expert advice on preventing gum recession. Here are comprehensive tips to maintain healthy gums and prevent gum recession:

Practice Proper Oral Hygiene

  1. Gentle Brushing:
    • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle, circular motions.
    • Avoid scrubbing back and forth aggressively, as it can damage the gum tissue.
  2. Floss Daily:
    • Clean between your teeth daily to remove plaque buildup and prevent gum disease.
  3. Use Antibacterial Mouthwash:
    • Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash to reduce oral bacteria and maintain a healthy gum line.

Choose the Right Toothbrush and Toothpaste

  1. Soft-Bristled Toothbrush:
    • Reduces the risk of gum abrasion.
  2. Electric Toothbrush:
    • Provides consistent, gentle cleaning.
  3. Desensitizing Toothpaste:
    • Helps alleviate sensitivity associated with early gum recession.

Regular Dental Check-Ups and Cleanings

  1. Professional Cleanings:
    • Schedule cleanings at least twice a year to remove plaque and tartar buildup.
  2. Periodontal Assessments:
    • Regular exams help detect early signs of gum disease and recession.

Address Gum Disease Promptly

  1. Scaling and Root Planing:
    • Deep cleaning procedures can prevent gum disease from progressing to recession.
  2. Antibiotics or Antimicrobial Rinses:
    • Reduce bacterial infection and inflammation.
  3. Laser Therapy:
    • Minimally invasive treatment for gum disease.

Manage Stress and Bruxism

  1. Mouthguards:
    • Wear a night guard to protect your teeth and gums if you grind or clench.
  2. Stress Reduction Techniques:
    • Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

Quit Smoking and Tobacco Use

  1. Smoking Cessation Programs:
    • Seek support through cessation programs or counseling.
  2. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT):
    • Consider patches, gum, or lozenges.

Balance Your Diet

  1. Increase Vitamin C and D Intake:
    • Essential for gum health and immune function.
  2. Avoid Excess Sugar and Acid:
    • Sugary and acidic foods can erode enamel and irritate gums.

Correct Malocclusion

  1. Orthodontic Treatment:
    • Aligning teeth with braces or clear aligners can reduce stress on the gums.
  2. Bite Adjustment:
    • Dental restorations like crowns or onlays can improve occlusion.

Monitor Hormonal Changes

  1. Pregnancy and Menopause:
    • Increased hormonal activity can make gums more sensitive. Pay extra attention to oral hygiene during these periods.
  2. Oral Contraceptives:
    • Consult your dentist if you notice gum issues after starting hormonal contraceptives.

Use a Nightguard for Sleep Apnea

  1. Oral Appliances:
    • Custom nightguards can reduce the impact of sleep apnea on gum health by minimizing grinding and clenching.

Additional Preventive Measures for At-Risk Individuals: Expert Advice from Dr. Rana Baroudi

For individuals already predisposed to gum recession due to genetics or other factors, advanced preventive strategies can be particularly beneficial. Dr. Rana Baroudi, a periodontist in San Jose, shares her insights on how to protect your gums if you’re at risk.

Topical Fluoride Treatments

  1. In-Office Application:
    • Professional fluoride treatments strengthen enamel and reduce sensitivity, providing additional protection against gum recession.
  2. Prescription Toothpaste:
    • High-fluoride concentration toothpaste prescribed by your dentist can be used at home to fortify enamel and protect against gum disease.

Gum Stimulating Techniques

  1. Massage:
    • Gently massaging your gums with your fingers or a specialized gum stimulator increases blood flow and helps keep your gums healthy.
  2. Chlorhexidine Gel:
    • An antimicrobial gel that reduces bacterial load and inflammation, promoting gum health.

Bone Grafting

  • For patients experiencing bone loss due to periodontal disease, bone grafting can stabilize teeth and prevent further gum recession. This procedure helps regenerate lost bone and enhances the overall stability of teeth.

Probiotics for Oral Health

  • Oral Probiotics:
    • Oral probiotics can help balance the oral microbiome, reducing harmful bacteria that contribute to gum disease and recession.

When to Consult a Periodontist

Dr. Rana Baroudi emphasizes that seeking early professional help is essential if you notice any of the following signs:

  1. Increased Tooth Sensitivity:
    • Especially to cold, hot, or sweet foods, indicating potential gum recession.
  2. Exposed Tooth Roots:
    • Visible gum recession exposing the roots of the teeth.
  3. Red, Swollen, or Bleeding Gums:
    • Early signs of gingivitis or periodontal disease requiring immediate attention.
  4. Loose Teeth or Pus:
    • Advanced periodontal disease that needs prompt and specialized treatment.


Preventing gum recession isn’t just about maintaining a beautiful smile; it’s also vital for preserving oral health. Dr. Rana Baroudi recommends adopting proper oral hygiene practices, addressing underlying risk factors, and seeking regular dental care to significantly reduce the risk of gum recession. Even for those who have undergone gum grafting, these preventive measures will help maintain graft success and promote long-term gum health. By following these tips and remaining proactive, you can ensure a lifetime of strong and healthy gums.