The twice-daily brushing habit that you’ve followed from a young age is probably so ingrained in your routine that you’ve probably not given it a second thought. But beyond just going through the motion, it’s important to carry out proper brushing techniques that will protect your gums and teeth. For instance, unknowingly, if you brush too aggressively or use the wrong type of toothbrush like a hard-bristled1 version, this can result in receding gums.
What are receding gums?
If you’ve noticed that your teeth look a little longer or your gums seem to be pulling back from your teeth, it might be a sign2 of receding gums. If left untreated, it could lead to tooth loss in the long run.
Other telltale signs include:
- bleeding after brushing or flossing
- red, swollen gums
- bad breath
- pain at the gum line
- visibly shrinking gums
- exposed tooth roots
- loose teeth
What causes receding gums?
Bacterial gum infections like gum disease can destroy gum tissue and supporting bone that hold your teeth in place.
Insufficient dental care
Inadequate brushing and flossing makes it easy for plaque to turn into tartar -- a hard substance that builds on your teeth which can lead to gum recession
Fluctuations in female hormone levels during a woman's lifetime, such as in puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can make gums more sensitive and more vulnerable to gum recession.
Grinding and clenching your teeth
Clenching or grinding your teeth can put too much force on the teeth, causing gums to recede.
Smoking or the use of any tobacco product
Tobacco users are more likely to have sticky plaque on their teeth that is difficult to remove and can cause gum recession.
Aggressive tooth brushing
If you brush your teeth too hard or the wrong way, it can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear away and your gums to recede.
How do I tell if I’m over brushing or under brushing my teeth?
The general rule of thumb is that harder isn’t always better for brushing. While it might feel like you’re deep-cleaning your teeth by brushing forcefully, it can actually do more harm3 than good, wearing down your tooth enamel and irritating your gums.
If you’re unsure whether you’re over brushing your teeth, a no-brainer way to tell is to take a look at your toothbrush. If the bristles are flattened, you’re probably brushing too hard. It’s probably high time for a change of toothbrush, and an overhaul of your brushing technique!
Other than the bristles on your toothbrush, here are some warning signs as to whether you’re brushing your teeth too hard and too much:
- You experience bleeding gums
- You have sensitive teeth
- Your teeth looks dull and appears less white and bright
- You have receding gums
On the other hand, if your brushing routine takes shorter than 2 minutes each time and there’s residue plague after brushing, it’s highly likely you’re under-brushing your teeth.
How to brush your teeth properly
Brushing your teeth too hard may also cause your gums to recede. Here’s an easy4 6 step procedure for you to follow:
- Gently brush your teeth on all sides with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Use small circular motions and short back-and-forth strokes.
- Brush carefully and gently along your gum line.
- Lightly brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper to help keep your mouth clean.
- Brush at least twice per day, and for at least two minutes at a time.
Remember to replace your toothbrush regularly every 3 to 4 months to prevent bacteria from building up in the bristles.
Preventing Gum Recession
Apart from practicing proper brushing techniques, having good oral hygiene habits like flossing between the teeth at least once per day and using an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce bacteria can help to prevent gum recession.
Gum recession can happen slowly, so it’s important to take a good look at your gums and teeth regularly. If you notice receding gums and you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, it’s best to make an appointment soon.
Unfortunately, gum recession cannot be reversed - but you can prevent the problem from worsening. At Smilepoint, our dental hygienists will guide you on developing good brushing techniques. If need be, they’ll perform deep cleaning treatments like scaling and root planing, which help to remove plaque and tartar from below the gumline, where regular brushing cannot reach.
Feel free to contact us if you need help!
- A, K., & G, S. (1993). Gingival recession in relation to history of hard toothbrush use. Journal of periodontology, 64(9), 900-905.
- Cherney, K. (2018, September 17). Receding Gums: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and More. Healthline. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-oral-health-receding-gums
- Lillis, C. (2019, August 12). Do receding gums grow back? Treatments and prevention. Medical News Today. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326022#treatment
- National Institute on Aging. (n.d.). Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-teeth-and-mouth#clean)
- Raypole, C. (2019, April 1). How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth? Plus, Other Brushing FAQs. Healthline. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-should-you-brush-your-teeth#brushing-too-much