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Do Gums Recede as One Ages?

by Dr. Joshua Davidson, Senior Dental Care Expert
April 18, 2019

Question: Is it true that gums recede as you age?

Answer:

Inherently as we age, we do lose minute amounts of bone. Women lose more bone than men. This same condition can be seen in the mouth, but we see it as tissue loss. If you look in your mouth and see gum recession, you are actually seeing some bone loss because the tissue (gums) adhere to bone. If the bone recedes, the tissue follows. 

There are many factors that increase bone/tissue loss; aging, diabetes, smoking, poor home care. Nearly everyone in the “senior” category will see some gum recession, but no need to panic! The difficulty is that when tissue recedes then the root surface of the tooth is exposed and for some this can create sensitivity. But some tissue loss/recession is not inherently a bad thing and is just a part of aging. 

Consistent home care and cleanings with a hygienist are vital to tissue maintenance. No need to brush harder, but rather spend more time brushing and really do a thorough job when brushing. A hygienist can recommend a desensitizing toothpaste should there be sensitivity.

Joshua Davidson is a 2011 graduate of the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. He simultaneously received his Masters Degree in Public Health. He currently works at the Chippewa Falls Dental Center in Chippewa Falls, WI focusing on issues of geriatric dental care.

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