Can Retainers Cause Gum Recession?

HomeGum HealthCan Retainers Cause Gum Recession?

Gingival recession, or gum recession, occurs when gum tissue is worn away and exposes the roots of the teeth. It can be caused by various factors, but can it be caused by wearing a dental retainer? That’s a question that many retainer-wearers ask us. Today we want to provide some answers.
girl biting her lower lip wondering if her retainer causes gum recession

Types of Retainers

After braces are removed, teeth can shift back to their original position, so dental retainers are used to keep teeth straight. Retainers come in two types: removable and fixed. How long removable retainers are worn depends on the retention plan prescribed by the patient’s orthodontist. Some are worn full-time for several months, while some are worn only at night. Fixed retainers, which are fitted and bonded to the back of the teeth, are typically worn for several years.

A retainer can cause gum recession if it does not fit the way it should. In that case, the retainer components can create excessive pressure on gum tissue, causing them to recede. This can happen as the connective tissue attached to the roots tightens up after braces are removed, changing how the retainer fits.

More Frequent Causes of Gum Recession

Although retainers can cause gums to recede, there are other factors that are more likely to be the culprit. The most common cause is poor oral health. A tooth-friendly diet combined with twice-a-day brushing and daily flossing will go a long way toward preventing most gum-related problems.

However, if brushing or flossing is overly aggressive, that too can cause gum recession. That’s why it’s very important to use a soft toothbrush, and brush in a gentle circular motion. Similarly, thorough flossing can be accomplished gently. Brushing and flossing should not be painful! Of course, more serious trauma to teeth or gums can also cause gums to recede.

Ironically, abnormal tooth positioning, which braces and retainers are used to correct, can cause gum recession.

Teeth-grinding is another possibility that is often overlooked. Symptoms, which include headaches and jaw stiffness in addition to worn-down teeth, should be
reported to the dentist. Treatment could be as simple as using a mouthguard at night.

Finally, genetics can also play a major role. If a person’s parents have gum recession, that person is at a higher risk for receding gums.

Are your teeth showing more roots than they should? If so, contact us at Edgewater Dental Arts and set up an appointment today!

Written by

John Cutting, DMD is an Annapolis dentist experienced in all aspects of dentistry. He provides complete care from general dentistry to cosmetic and restorative dentistry in his conveniently located and comfortable office, Edgewater Dental Arts.