Receding gums, also called gingival recession, refers to the exposure of the roots and nerves of teeth due to a loss or retraction of gum tissue. 
Receding gums are a common problem in Americans 40 years and older, and often occur as a result of poor oral hygiene.
Avoiding certain foods may help reduce symptoms or the progression of the condition. Consult with your dentist about causes and prevention of receding gums.

Receding Gums

       Easy bleeding with flossing or brushing is a common symptom.     There are several possible causes for gum recession such as abnormal tooth position, insufficient gum tissue, overaggressive brushing, dental infections, eating disorders, chewing tobacco, teeth grinding, according to the book "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine." 

Bacteria, plaque and tars can accumulate in your mouth and eat away at your gum tissue. Gum recession takes many months and years to become noticeable or symptomatic.

Common symptoms associated with receding gums include sensitive teeth, tooth pain from exposed nerves, bad breath, tooth discoloration, inflamed gums, and gums that bleed easily with flossing or brushing.

Avoid Acidic Foods

       Avoid acid foods like coffee.     Bacteria and other pathogenic microorganisms thrive in an acidic environment, which then contribute to gum disease, inflammation and receding, according to the book "Human Biochemistry." Further, excessively acidic foods can damage the protective layer of your teeth. Examples of acidic foods and beverages include excessive consumption of meats, citrus fruits, white bread, pasta made with white flour, pickled and fermented foods, alcoholic beverages, coffee and black tea.

Avoid Sugary Foods

       Stay away from sugary foods as they can stick between your teeth and gums.     Sugary foods are highly acidic and provide potential bacteria with an easy food source, which is why excessive consumption of sugar greatly increases the incidence of dental cavities and gum diseases, according to the book "Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism." Examples of sugary foods and beverages include candy, donuts, cakes, muffins, chocolate, soda pop, energy drinks and liqueurs. Chewy carbohydrates with gluten, such as white bread and donuts, stick to your teeth, and can get caught between your teeth and gums when they recede, which contributes to gingivitis or gum-tissue inflammation.

Avoid Cold Foods

       Cold foods may cause sensitivity.     When your gums recede, the nerves that supply your teeth are exposed, which make them more sensitive to cold foods and beverages. Avoiding colds foods such as ice cream, snow cones, popsicles, ice cubes, and refrigerated fruits and vegetables may reduce some of the pain that is commonly associated with receding gums. Crunching on ice cubes, or any hard foods such as nuts, may loosen teeth that have become weak due to receding gums. Instead, eat or drink room temperature or heated items that are soft in texture. Further, ask your dentist about special toothpastes that are designed to reduce tooth sensitivity.


Bleeding Gums? Here's What Your Body's Trying to Tell You  

Bleeding gums might not seem like a big deal. But if you notice a red or pink tinge when you rinse after brushing or flossing, it's important to figure out what's causing the problem. 

Bleeding gums are typically a sign of inflammation, explains Los Angeles-based cosmetic dentist Matt Asaro, DDS. That can cause discomfort in your mouth and increase the risk for tooth decay, but there are other risks as well. 

Inflamed gums are tied to a higher risk for serious health problems, including respiratory disease, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Mayo Clinic

Once you know what's causing your bleeding gums, you can take steps to solve the issue and improve the health of your mouth. Here are some of the most common culprits and what you can do to manage them.

What Causes Bleeding Gums?

"Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of bleeding gums," Dr. Asaro says. Here's how that can cause your gums to bleed, plus other possible factors that could lead to bleeding.

1. You Have Gum Disease

Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can cause redness, irritation and swelling. This can make your gums more sensitive and prone to bleeding when you brush or floss, Dr. Asaro explains. Gingivitis is usually caused by poor oral hygiene (i.e. not brushing and flossing properly or often enough), and when left untreated, it can lead to serious gum infections and even tooth loss, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

2. You're Brushing Too Hard

Brushing too aggressively or using a very firm toothbrush might irritate your gums and make them more prone to bleeding, Dr. Asaro says. The problem may be more likely to occur if your gums are inflamed from gingivitis, because inflamed gums are more prone to bleeding.

3. You Just Started Flossing

Your gums might bleed a little if you're brand new to flossing, because they're not used to the pressure from the floss, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The bleeding should clear up in a week or so if your gums are healthy. If it doesn't, that could be a sign your gums are inflamed.

4. You're Dealing With Pregnancy-Related Hormone Changes

Pregnancy hormones can have all kinds of unexpected effects on your body. One of the most common is bleeding gums, which affects up to 75 percent of pregnant people, the Cleveland Clinic says. Shifting hormones can lower your body's ability to fight off oral bacteria, which can lead to temporary inflammation, gingivitis and bleeding.

5. You're on Blood Thinners

Blood-thinning medications like heparin, warfarin or aspirin can increase the risk for bleeding, including around your gums. The bleeding should stop quickly once it starts, the ADA says. If it doesn't, talk to your doctor. You may need to make changes to your medication or figure out alternative options for managing your oral health.

6. You Have a Gum or Tooth Infection

Infected gums or teeth can cause inflammation and make gums more prone to bleeding. But that's not the only symptom. "Usually pain and swelling are telltale signs of an oral infection," Dr. Asaro says. You might notice pus seeping out of the affected area too.

7. You Have a Vitamin Deficiency

Not getting enough vitamin C or vitamin K can make your gums more prone to bleeding, according to the National Library of Medicine. Usually upping your intake should solve the problem. 

You can get the recommended 75 to 90 milligrams of daily vitamin C through fruits and vegetables like strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli or oranges. 

Get your fill of the recommended 90 to 120 micrograms of vitamin K from K-rich foods like leafy greens, broccoli, soybeans or canned pumpkin.

Treatment for Bleeding Gums

1. Brush Twice Daily Using the Right Toothbrush

Doubling down on your oral hygiene is the best way to improve the health of your gums and reduce the chance for bleeding. That starts with brushing your teeth at least twice daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush

"A pressure-monitoring electric toothbrush lights up green to tell you when you're applying the right amount of pressure," says Dr. Asaro. He likes the oralB iO series brushes 

2. Floss Properly

Flossing is just as important as brushing because it removes food buildup and bacteria from in between your teeth where your brush can't reach. You'll reap the biggest benefits by making a "C" shape with your floss and wrapping it around each side of your tooth, Dr. Asaro says. Aim to floss once a day.

3. Get Regular Dental Checkups

Finally, see your dentist twice per year for a professional cleaning. 

Your dentist can remove plaque buildup to keep your gums and teeth healthy, so they're less likely to become inflamed. 


 Active bleeding from brushing or flossing should stop within a few minutes. 

But if you're having trouble controlling the bleeding, applying direct pressure to the area can help.

Soak a gauze pad in ice cold water and place it directly on the injured spot, the National Library of Medicine recommends. 

When to See a Dentist for Bleeding Gums

See your dentist if your gums bleed consistently when you brush or floss or if you're experiencing pain or redness around your gums or teeth. 

Bleeding caused by things like brushing too hard isn't usually a problem if it eases up within a couple of days. 

But persistent gum bleeding could be a sign of gum disease, a gum infection or another serious health problem. 

The One Mistake You’re Probably Making When You Floss Your Teeth  

If you've managed to make flossing a part of your daily dental care routine, kudos. Only a mere 16 percent of adults floss once a day, according to a survey by the American Dental Association (ADA). 

But threading a piece of dental string through your teeth is only half the battle. What you do with the floss is what really matters. 

Yep, there's a right way and a wrong way to floss for healthy teeth and gums. 

And odds are you're in the latter camp. That's because most people tend to floss up and down. 

While this feels like the most intuitive way to get rid of gunk between your teeth, this method misses a lot of muck. "Simply going up and down does not remove the plaque hiding by the gumline," says Zahra Omar, DDS

So, what's the correct way to floss? Read on to learn about the proper flossing technique for optimal oral health.

The Proper Way to Floss

Even if you floss daily, you might be missing certain places. Flossing up and down only removes some of the stuff between your teeth, but it neglects the sides of your teeth and the area below the gumline where plaque can accumulate.

Teeth curve into the gums, so when you floss, you need to follow the contour of the tooth to remove plaque, Dr. Omar says. 

The best way to get into those hard-to-reach spaces is by making a C shape with your floss.

This enables you to slide the string around the sides of your teeth and near your gumline. 

For flawless flossing technique, follow this step-by-step guide from the ADA.

  1. Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
  2. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
  3. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
  4. When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  5. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don't forget the back side of the teeth in the back of your mouth.


 For the best results, floss before you brush. This will help dislodge food particles buried between your teeth, so they can be scrubbed clean by the brush. 

This also enables the fluoride in toothpaste to reach areas between your teeth more easily. 

Consider a Water Flosser if You’re Over 35

"For most adults over 35, I recommend a water flosser in addition to [regular] floss, so that you really remove all the gunk hiding between your teeth," Dr. Omar says. Here's why: 

As we age, we start to lose alveolar bone (the part of the jaw that holds the teeth), she says. 

That means we need to pay special attention to our dental care as we grow older to offset this age-related bone loss. Water flossing can serve as a preventative measure. 

But remember: 

A water flosser should be used as an addition to (not instead of) regular flossing. 

Side Effects of Improper Flossing

When you skip certain tooth surfaces, you leave your mouth vulnerable to dental problems. 

Here's what could happen if you don't floss properly.

1. It Can Lead to Gum Disease

"Improper flossing allows plaque accumulation, and this in turn causes gums to be inflamed," Dr. Omar says. Over time, this inflammation can result in gum disease as your body fights against the plaque and bacteria by the gumline. What's more, plaque can calcify and harden to create calculus (also known as tartar). Again, your body will produce an inflammatory response to combat calculus, which can cause the gum and bone to recede and give rise to periodontal disease, Dr. Omar says.

2. It Can Cause Cavities

When you don't floss correctly, you're also allowing bacteria to feed on plaque, which releases acid that can cause decay, Dr. Omar says. This acid is what eats away at the tooth structure and causes cavities. 

If You're Flossing After You Brush, You're Doing It Wrong  

Flossing: The daily habit you should have, but if we're being honest, most of us don't. Just about one-third of adults 30 and older say they floss daily, according to the Journal of Periodontology

(Most people say they floss weekly, which is six fewer times than recommended, btw.) So, of course, the first order of business is to start flossing (more on that later), but there may be a best time to do it. 

Many dentists have advised readers to floss first before brushing in order to loosen up the food particles hiding in between your teeth so they can be effectively swept away by the brush.

 In reality, though, you can still get an oral health benefit from flossing whether you do it before or after brushing, Lisa Maxwell, MSB, Dental Hygiene Program director and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Comprehensive Care at Indiana University School of Dentistry, tells 

 That said, if you're starting to floss, you're better off doing it before you brush. "If you are trying to introduce a new habit of flossing, you might want to floss before you brush so you can't talk yourself out of it," she says, adding that this might take a couple weeks for the new habit to become automatic.

Why Floss?

Food particles and bacteria combine to create plaque that sits on teeth (you'll know it's there if you run your tongue over your teeth and things feel "fuzzy").

When plaque settles in between teeth, toothbrushes can't touch it, according to the American Dental Association

If you don't act (read: floss), plaque becomes tartar and it can only be scraped off at the dentist. Plaque leads to both cavities, which can occur between teeth, and gingivitis, a condition that can lead to gum disease. 

How Often to Floss

Make flossing frequent. "Everyone should floss once a day, either in the morning or before bed," Maxwell says. There are benefits to either choice. 

The good thing about doing it before bed is that you've got a whole day's worth of gunk built up that you need to get out of your teeth. 

On the other hand, if you're too tired at night and resistant to adding another thing to your brushing routine, then tackling flossing in the morning is a great way to freshen up your mouth for the day. 

There are so many different types of floss: string, waxed, soft/spongy, picks, interdental cleaners and water flossers. What you choose is based on what you like, says Maxwell. (And what makes you more willing to floss.) "Waxed is good for tight contacts.

Spongy floss is good for teeth with spaces between them or implants or crown and bridge work. 

Water flossers are good for cleaning around extensive dental work or braces," she says. Next, follow this technique from Maxwell to floss like a pro:

  1. Pull out a piece of floss that's longer than your forearm. (Whoa, seriously.) "You want to use a clean section of floss [between each tooth] you're flossing," she says. No need to, you know, push that biofilm back into your teeth.
  2. Wrap a small amount of floss around the middle finger of one hand and then the middle finger of the other. You should see two inches of floss between your fingers. 
  3. Pinch your thumb and index finger together on both ends of the floss and guide the floss between each tooth. Gently see-saw the floss until the floss slides down to your gums.
  4. Push the floss gently against the tooth to make a "c" shape. Move the floss up and down. (The idea is to get around the tooth, not just quickly ping the floss down and back up.) Move the floss to the side of the adjoining tooth and repeat the "c" shape technique.
  5. Pull the floss up and unroll a clean section of floss, wrapping the used section around the other finger. 
  6. Repeat until you've flossed each tooth.

Why Your Oral Health Declines as You Age, and What You Can Do About It 

Back in the day, losing your teeth was an unfortunate part of aging for most people, and it started early. Even George Washington began losing teeth in his 20s and wore dentures made of ivory and metal (ouch) when he was president. Luckily, times have changed.

With advances in dental technology, education and public health, people can now live out their lives with a full set of natural teeth. 

Still, aging can be tough on teeth and gums, as it's linked to an increased risk of certain oral conditions. But there's a lot you can do to prevent that.

Here, we spoke to Leena Palomo, DDS, MSD, professor and chair of the Ashman Department of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry at New York University, to better understand what happens to your mouth as you get older and how to combat the effects of aging on your teeth and gums.

Dental Conditions That Become More Common With Age

Older adults are vulnerable to certain oral health issues. Here are a few problems that become more prevalent with age:

1. Darkening Tooth Enamel

Pearly whites looking a little less bright? Unfortunately, tooth discoloration tends to occur with age. 

Here's why: Over time, the enamel's outer layer wears down, uncovering the dentin (the hard yellow tissue beneath the enamel), according to the Cleveland Clinic

What's more, your dentin also grows as you age, giving your teeth a darker appearance. 

Other factors, including eating foods that stain your teeth, tobacco use, trauma to your teeth, poor dental hygiene and certain diseases and medications can also contribute to darkened enamel, per the Cleveland Clinic. "A lot of these things are additive in nature, so as time goes on, they tend to have a cumulative effect," Dr. Palomo says. 

2. Dry Mouth

Almost one-third of adults older than 65 deal with dry mouth (also known as xerostomia), a condition that occurs when you don't produce enough saliva, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). 

And the number rises to 40 percent of people in their 80s. Dry mouth increases with age for several reasons, Dr. Palomo says. The most common culprit is medication. 

As we get older, we're more likely to be taking a medicine to treat a chronic health issue, and certain medications — including antidepressants, heart drugs and decongestants — can worsen dry mouth, she says. 

And the more meds in your pillbox, the greater the problem. "Several medications together have a huge synergistic effect on dry mouth," Dr. Palomo says. Indeed, older adults who take four or more daily prescription medications are more likely to experience xerostomia, per the ADA. 

Certain health conditions themselves — such as diabetes, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease — are also linked to an increased risk of dry mouth, according to the ADA.

3. Root Decay

Dry mouth and tooth decay go hand and hand, especially as we age, Dr. Palomo says. Our saliva — which has antibacterial and cleansing properties — protects the root surfaces from tooth decay, she explains. 

So, if your mouth is dry as a desert, it's more vulnerable to bad bacteria that can cause cavities. 

Older folks also have a greater risk for root decay due to increased gum recession, which exposes root surfaces, and nearly half of adults over 75 have at least one root cavity, per the ADA.

4. Gum Disease

More than two-thirds of people 65 and older are affected by gum (periodontal) disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Gum disease, like most other oral issues, is a cumulative condition, Dr. Palomo says.

Think of it like this: If you lost one millimeter of gum tissue when you were a kid, and your gums continued to recede a little more over the years, you're likely to look "long in the tooth" later in life, Dr. Palomo says. Periodontal disease is also more likely to develop in people with chronic, age-related medical problems such as arthritis, diabetes, heart diseases and COPD, per the CDC. 

That's because your heart, your kidneys and the supporting structures of your teeth are all made up of the same blood supply, the same bone and the same connective tissue, Dr. Palomo explains. So, while we tend to think about oral health as a separate issue, the mouth is actually the mirror for the rest of the body, she says. In other words, when you experience problems in other organs or systems, your mouth will reflect that. 

5. Tooth Loss

Almost one-fifth of adults 65 and older and a quarter of people above 75 have lost all their teeth, per the CDC.

Tooth loss is the most obvious sign of a snowballing dental issue that has deteriorated with age and time, Dr. Palomo says. 

For example, if gum disease is left untreated, the bone structures that support the teeth can weaken and wane, causing teeth to become loose, according to the CDC.

6. Oral Cancer

Mouth  cancers are more common in older adults, with the average age of diagnosis at 62, according to the CDC. Certain high-risk habits like smoking, especially if it's a long-term behavior, increase your odds of oral cancer

"As we look at tips to protect your teeth and gums as you age, lifelong prevention is the key," Dr. Palomo says. 

That means you should start making your mouth a priority now — the earlier, the better. 

While you probably already know the fundamentals—brush twice daily (two minutes each time) and floss every day — there are a lot of other things you can do for your dental health to prevent oral problems and ensure your teeth stay in tip-top shape as you get older.

1. Buy a Toothbrush With Soft Bristles

"Soft bristles are kind to the soft tissue of your mouth," Dr. Palomo says. 

On the other hand, hard, sturdy bristles are too abrasive and may damage tooth surfaces. 

Just make sure to replace your toothbrush or brush head every three months. 

When bristles become old and frayed with use, they can wear away both the hard and soft tissue of your teeth and gums, so you're more likely to see periodontal recession, Dr. Palomo adds.

2. Use an Electric Toothbrush

While it's possible to brush your teeth successfully with a regular toothbrush, investing in an electric toothbrush (we know, it can be costly) might be worth it in the long run. 

That's because people who use an electric toothbrush tend to have healthier gums, fewer cavities and less tooth loss, according to the Oral Health Foundation.

This may be in part because electric toothbrushes tout some terrific bells and whistles with big benefits for your mouth. 

For example, many electric toothbrushes come with an app that connects to your device, which alerts you if you've missed an area of your mouth, Dr. Palomo says. 

Overlooking an area is a common mistake. Often, our minds wander when we brush, so we can easily neglect to cover every tooth surface, Dr. Palomo says. 

But when we repetitively miss the same area of the mouth, we increase our risk for disease. 

Another fantastic feature of electric toothbrushes is the automatic shut-down function.

If you're pushing too hard or using too much pressure, the brush will beep or turn off, Dr. Palomo says. "Pushing too hard amounts to the same damage as using a hard-bristled or old, frayed toothbrush," she explains.

3. Prioritize Preventive Dental Care

Regular dental care is crucial at every age but especially as we get older, Dr. Palomo says.

That's because a routine dental visit can catch a problem early on and nip it in the bud. 

But when you delay your dental care, a small issue can snowball into something more complicated, like a root canal or tooth extraction. 

Put another way: Seeing your dentist now — and often — can prevent bigger problems down the line. 

So, how often do you need a dental check-up and professional cleaning?

 People who have relatively healthy teeth and gums and are at low risk for oral conditions can see their dentist every six months,Dr. Palomo says. 

But for someone with a higher risk — including people who smoke and those who have diabetes, inflammatory conditions like arthritis or a history of gum disease — twice a year isn't enough, Dr. Palomo says. For these folks, quarterly maintenance is recommended (so, every three months).

4. Aim for a Balanced, Healthy Lifestyle

Eating nutrient-rich foods and exercising regularly are just as important for your teeth as they are for your overall health.

 Healthy habits can help you reduce your risk for chronic medical conditions — like heart disease and diabetes — which are risk factors for oral disease, Dr. Palomo says.

5. Stay Hydrated

To counteract dry mouth and a shortage of saliva, it's important to stay hydrated, Dr. Palomo says. 

So, how much water should you sip per day?

Because people come in such different shapes and sizes, the general recommendation of eight cups (64 ounces) per day may be a little too broad and unrealistic, she says. 

A better benchmark might be to aim for about half your body weight in ounces, Dr. Palomo says. So, for instance, a person who weighs 120 pounds would shoot for about 60 ounces, while someone who weighs 200 pounds would aspire to 100 ounces.

6. Limit Caffeinated and Alcoholic Beverages

If staying hydrated helps keep your mouth healthy, it stands to reason that avoiding (or decreasing) dehydrating drinks is another smart strategy. 

To that end, try to limit caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate you, per the ADA.

7. Quit (or Better Yet, Don’t Start) Smoking

Nicotine is cytotoxic (meaning it kills important cells) and makes the capillaries, the vessels that carry healing factors to places in our mouths (and all over our body), smaller and more restricted, Dr. Palomo says. "So not only are we killing off healing cells, but we're also cutting off the superhighways by which those healing cells reach their destination," she adds. Heat is also cytotoxic, so other forms of puffing, such as cigar or pipe smoking, are also destructive to the dental environment, Dr. Palomo says. 

While quitting smoking is something to celebrate, your best bet for brilliant oral health — and preventing problems like gum disease and mouth cancer — is not starting in the first place. "It takes 10 to 11 years to return to the oral health of a never-smoker," Dr. Palomo says.