Can Teeth Aligners Cause Gum Recession? A Comprehensive Look

Written by Dr. Febin Mary George, BDS | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Shaista Salam, BDS, Dr Seema Daradkeh, DDS, MFD/RCSI, MSc Public Health

Fact Checked →

Table of Contents

  1. Causes of gum recession
  2. How do you know if your gum is receding: All symptoms
  3. How to prevent gum recession?
  4. Can teeth alignment cause gum recession? (Myths & facts)
  5. How do I keep my gums healthy with clear aligners: Tips & best practices

Achieving straight teeth has become more convenient, esthetically pleasing, and comfortable with the advent of clear aligners.  Yet, a common question many may have regarding clear aligners is- “can aligners cause gum recession?”. This article will walk you through the various causes of gum recession and whether clear aligners can contribute to it.

What is Gum Recession?

Gum recession is when gums around the teeth pull back gradually, leaving the roots of the teeth exposed. Gum recession is a periodontal condition that affects the tissues that support the teeth within the oral cavity. Teeth with receded gums appear longer and may cause sensitivity on having hot or cold food/beverage due to the exposed surface of the root that is more sensitive than the crow’s enamel.

Causes of gum recession

Gum recession could be because of several reasons, a few of which you may not have ever thought of. Knowing the reasons may help you in preventing further damage to your gums.

  1. Brushing your teeth vigorously

When we brush our teeth, we should think about the force that we are applying to our teeth. Brushing teeth aggressively with a hard-bristled toothbrush can not only damage the gums but also wear down the teeth.(1) (3) It may lead to gum recession over many years.

  1. Gum disease

Poor oral hygiene leads to a build-up of plaque and tartar, making it congenial for gum disease-causing bacteria to flourish and cause inflammation of the gums. When left untreated, the disease process may progress to pocketing in the gum, which in turn can progress to gum recession. This is why we always need to brush our teeth twice a day at least and use the dental floss once a day.

  1. Abnormal position of teeth

Misaligned teeth are difficult to clean as the bristles of the toothbrush fail to access all the surfaces of such teeth. Moreover, it is easier for food debris to deposit in between misaligned teeth. Hence, abnormally positioned teeth are more prone to inflamed and/or receding gums.

  1. Hereditary

Some people are genetically predisposed to have thin gums that wear off easily, thereby causing gum recession.

  1. Age

Gums may slowly recede or pull away from the teeth with older age. However, if you maintain proper oral hygiene, you may be able to prevent this to a large extent.

  1. Lip/tongue piercings

Lip or tongue piercings can injure the gums of teeth adjacent to them, like lower front teeth. Repeated trauma can result in the pulling back of gums. They can also cause more plaque accumulation around them and around the teeth close to them.

How do you know if your gum is receding: All symptoms

  • Redness and Swelling

Normal healthy gums are light pink and firm. If you find that your gums are swollen and red, you should suspect gum disease. Inflamed gums may lead to gum recession when left untreated. The gum disease should be treated at this stage to prevent gum recession from occurring over time.

  • Bleeding

Bleeding gums are an early sign of gum disease that should not be ignored.

  • Tooth Sensitivity

When gums recede, they often expose the roots of the teeth. When

we consume anything hot or cold, we feel a sudden sharp sensation of discomfort that lasts for a few seconds. This unpleasant feeling is tooth sensitivity.

  • Longer Teeth Appearance

The recession of the gums makes the teeth appear longer, as the roots of the teeth are visible when the gums are pulled back. If you look closely, you can find some lines on your teeth that indicate the previous position of your gums when they were not receded.

  • Loose Teeth

Gum recession is usually followed by bone loss around the teeth, which can decrease the support and anchorage that surrounds the teeth. When your teeth have gotten detached from the supporting tissues that anchors them within the jawbone, they turn loose. Loose teeth are the result of long-standing cases of gum inflammation and recession that were never taken care of.

How to prevent gum recession?

Here are some general oral care practices that will help you prevent gum recession:

  • Keep your mouth clean: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Use gentle, circular motions and pay attention to the gum line. Floss daily to remove plaque and debris from between your teeth and along the gumline.
  • Visit your dentist regularly: Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are essential for maintaining healthy gums. Your dentist can detect early signs of gum disease or gum recession and provide appropriate treatment.

  • Quit smoking: Smoking is a significant risk factor for gum disease. Research suggests that quitting smoking can significantly improve your overall oral health and reduce the chances of gum problems.(2)
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. A nutrient-rich diet helps support healthy gums.
  • Never ignore the signs of gum disease: If you notice any signs of gum disease, such as redness, swelling, bleeding gums, or persistent bad breath, seek professional dental care as soon as possible. Early treatment can help prevent gum recession or any other irreversible damage.

Can teeth alignment cause gum recession? (Myths & facts)

There is a common myth that teeth alignment procedures, like braces or aligners, can cause gum recession. However, studies reveal that orthodontic treatment alone does not directly cause gum recession. (3) There are many other predisposing factors, poor oral hygiene being the primary one, that can cause gum recession in those who are undergoing orthodontic treatments. In fact, orthodontic treatment can sometimes improve gum health by correcting misaligned teeth so that oral hygiene practices are more effective.

Individuals interested in undergoing teeth alignment may wonder, “Can aligners cause gum recession?”. One should understand that clear aligners are designed to move teeth gradually into their desired positions. When used correctly, under the expert supervision of a qualified dentist, clear aligners will not cause gum recession.

It is important to note that improper oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment can contribute to gum problems, including gum recession. When teeth are misaligned, it can be more challenging to clean them effectively, leading to an increased risk of gum disease. If a person doesn't maintain good oral hygiene habits during orthodontic treatment, plaque, and bacteria can accumulate along the gumline, causing inflammation and leading to gum recession.

How do I keep my gums healthy with clear aligners: Tips & best practices

Although there isn’t any direct link between clear aligners and periodontal disease, aligners are often blamed for poor gum health. Here are a few ways of keeping your gums healthy with clear aligners.

1. Recognize early signs of gum recession.

If you observe any sign of gum recession, like bleeding gums or teeth sensitivity, you should consult your dentist to stop the gum disease from progressing to a severe form. If you have an advanced stage of gum disease, your dentist may recommend you to wait until your gums heal before initiating orthodontic treatment.

2. Oral hygiene

Gum recession with clear aligners is more likely due to poor oral hygiene maintenance. Improper brushing technique leads to plaque buildup, which later on hardens to form tartar. Therefore, keeping your mouth clean through best oral hygiene practices helps in preventing gum disease and gum recession. As a clear aligner wearer, you should learn the techniques and tips of cleaning your aligners as well. Unclean aligners contribute to inflammation and recession of gums.

3. Regular dental check-ups

You may find it tough to detect the initial signs of gum disease. That is why routine dental check-ups are extremely important. Your dentist will examine your teeth and thoroughly to find out if they have any issues.


By now, you must have got the answer to your question- “can aligners cause gum recession?”. We now understand that properly used aligners themselves do not directly cause gum recession. However, certain factors like plaque and tartar buildup, excessive force while brushing teeth, or improper treatment planning can contribute to gum disease and recession. By maintaining excellent oral hygiene, undergoing regular check-ups, and following the guidance of your dentist, you can minimize the risk of gum recession during aligner treatment.



Related Articles