Join 6500+ people who have beaten Gum Disease using this method without expensive, rushed and ineffective dental visits. Beat Gum Disease Now

Do Gums Recede With Age?

does age cause receding gums

As you age, various transformations in your body are inevitable, including alterations in your oral health such as gum recession. Many people observe that their gums recede with age. Whilst it’s not a characteristic of aging, it doesn’t happen naturally as we age, it does become more common as individuals grow older. This is because factors that result in a receding gum line, such as smoking, genetic predisposition, harsh tooth brushing, or gum diseases become more probable.

Understanding the nuances of gum recession and how it correlates with aging can help in adopting preventive measures, ensuring the preservation of your smile and dental well-being through the years.

This post aims to discuss the causes and risk factors associated with receding gums and how the probability of each of these increases with age. 

Why Do Gums Recede With Age?

Whilst not everyone’s gums recede as they age, it does become more common. This is because as you get older your exposure to risk factors associated with gum recession increases. This increases your chances of the gums receding. 

If that doesn’t make sense let’s take skydiving as an example. The chance of someone dying after a single dive is 0.01%, however, if they do ten skydives their chance of dying increases because they’re compounding the risk the more they dive.

It’s the same with gum recession. Let’s take a look at the causes of receding gums.

Bone Loss

Gum tissue is supported by the bone and connective tissues underneath. Any loss of these structures removes the gums supporting structures and the gum tissue draws back, and the top of the gum tissue gets lower down the teeth. The teeth start to look longer, roots are exposed and black triangles may form between the teeth and gums. 

There are several causes of bone loss in the mouth and all three become more likely as we age. 

Bone Metabolism

Our bones are alive and constantly changing. The bones are remodeled constantly – special cells called osteoclasts remove old and worn-out bone, and at the same time cells called osteoblasts generate new bone cells.  As we age the rate of metabolism changes. 

Up until the age of 18 more bone is added as children grow to make them longer, wider and stronger. The balance of bone removal and addition is perfectly balanced between 18 and 35 years. However, from around the age of 35, this process changes and more bone is removed than is replaced resulting in a gradual loss of bone density.

Some bone loss is normal as we age, but if we exercise the jaw by eating a nutrient-rich diet, and practicing good oral hygiene we can slow down bone loss, preventing tooth loss, periodontal disease and gum recession.  

Bone health can be improved by leading a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a normal BMI and smoking cessation. 

Periodontal disease

This inflammatory condition of the gums and underlying bone and connective tissues is triggered by plaque-bacteria. Failure to prevent or control the disease process results in bone loss, gum retraction and tooth loss. This process may start as early as our 20s but becomes more apparent the older we get. 

Practicing good oral hygiene with the correct brushes and making positive lifestyle choices can prevent and control the disease – reducing the risk of gum recession.  

Tooth Loss

The older we get the more worn teeth become – after many years of chewing the teeth may naturally be worn down to the softer tooth material underneath and cavities become more likely. Cavities can lead to tooth loss. Tooth loss from periodontal disease also becomes more likely.

When there are one or more missing teeth the bone underneath is no longer stimulated through the action of chewing. This leads to bone reabsorption, bone loss and tissue retraction.  

Good oral hygiene can prevent tooth loss through decay and periodontal disease. Wearing mouth guards when playing contact sports and at night (if you grind your teeth) can prevent the loss of teeth from injury.  

Chronic Trauma

Anything that physically wounds the gum tissue can gradually and slowly lead to gum recession over the years. This process may start as early as our 20s or 30’s but is not noticeable until the later years. The gradual wearing away of tissue usually happens around one or two teeth and can be caused by aggressive brushing and oral piercings. 

What Receding Gums Look Like

receding gums and age

How Age Can Affect Oral Health

As we age, diseases and chronic conditions along with their treatment can affect oral health and become a risk factor for periodontal disease, bone loss or thin fragile tissue.  For example, medications can cause a dry mouth which increases the probability of periodontal disease. 

As we age, frailty and disease may make the elderly less mobile and unable to practice good oral hygiene, increasing the risk of periodontal disease, cavities and tooth loss. 

Increased Exposure to Risk Factors

The longer we participate in certain activities the probability of our oral health and gums being affected increases.  Risk factors include 

  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Frequent and excessive sugar consumption
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Stress

Receding Gums Make You Look Old

Not only does getting older increase the probability of receding gums, but gum recession also makes us look older

  • Long teeth and black triangles are not necessarily aesthetically pleasing to the eye and may be associated with someone who is elderly
  • Gum recession is also associated with loss of bone and connective tissue underneath. Without bone, gums and soft tissues to push the cheeks outwards the skin can look wrinkled and sunken which ages people. 

How to Prevent Receding Gums

Nobody has figured out a way to stop the aging process, but there are several positive steps we can take to reduce the chances of gum recession occurring.

These steps will also reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cancer and other diseases associated with getting a little bit older. 

  • Practising first-class oral hygiene that gently disrupts bacteria 
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle
  • Take exercise – except for contact sports which may increase your chances of tooth loss
  • Eat a nutrient-rich diet – the Mediterranean diet full of micronutrients is promoted to reduce the risk of cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. This diet may also reduce the risk of periodontal disease and gum recession. 
  • Avoid smoking
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Reduce stress

Frequently Asked Questions About Age and Receding Gums

I’m 20 and my gums are receding. What should I do? 

If you’re young and experiencing some gum recession, taking action now can prevent it from worsening. Practice good oral hygiene – brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and carefully clean the interdental spaces. Make positive lifestyle choices as indicated above. 

At what age do you get receding gums?

There is no set answer to that question – receding gums become more prevalent in the aging community due to the factors discussed above.

Do all old people have receding gums?

No. Not all old people have receding gums. Those whose gums have not been worn away and have not suffered any bone loss have no significant gum recession. 

Is it possible for receding gums to grow back?

Sadly the gum tissue can not grow back on its own but we can prevent further loss by taking the steps indicated above. 

Is there a toothbrush that will help receding gums?

The Gum Pocket Brush has been uniquely designed by dentists to reach the areas that harbour gum disease-causing plaque.


Takeaway from Does Age Cause Receding Gums

Receding gums is not caused by age, however, the probability of developing gum recession increases with age. Periodontal disease, poor oral hygiene and poor lifestyle choices in the decades before old age creeps up increase the likelihood of receding gums. 

If you would like to know more about preventing gum recession, periodontal disease and chronic trauma with good oral hygiene at home you can find out more here


Royal Osteoporosis Society

Gingival recession: its causes and types, and the importance of orthodontic treatment – PMC

Long in the tooth definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

Join over 6500+ people who have beaten Gum Disease using this method at home without expensive, rushed and ineffective dental visits. Your Gum Disease: Solved.