Why do gums recede? © Getty Images

Why do gums recede?

Gum disease is surprisingly common and damages the healthy bone your gums need to grow on.

Asked by: Lewis Pollard, Leeds

Advertisement

The main cause is gum disease. A 2010 study found that 47 per cent of Americans over 30 had some degree of gum disease. The bacteria attack the bone tissue in your jaw just behind the gum and cause it to slowly erode. Without healthy bone tissue to act as a scaffold, the gums first peel away from the tooth and eventually shrink back. Regular toothbrushing and flossing can fight gum infection but overbrushing damages gums too.


Advertisement

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.