We all know twice-daily tooth brushing is the key to a bright white smile, minty-fresh breath and cavity-free teeth. But did you realise gum care is an equally essential part of your dental care routine? And the state of your gums impacts your health overall – not just in your mouth?
The truth is, brushing alone will only get you so far. For a healthy mouth and body, some TLC for the gums is also vital. And this means daily flossing, regular dental check-ups and gentle gum massage. Yes, massage.
To discover why you should massage your gums – and how exactly to do it – read on. This is your go-to guide for calm, resilient gums and a happy, healthy mouth.
Why gum health is important
Having healthy gums is crucial for myriad reasons. Some – such as preventing bad breath – are commonly understood. While others – like reducing your risk of heart disease – tend to fly under the radar.
Removing bacteria and preventing plaque build-up, good oral care helps prevent gingivitis and periodontitis. These are forms of gum disease that can cause swelling, pain, redness, bad breath and gum recession. Left untreated, more severe periodontal disease is also the leading cause of tooth loss among adults1.
But if that's not enough to send you running for your electric toothbrush, consider this. Periodontal disease is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, dementia and pregnancy complications1 – among other health concerns.
What are the benefits of gum massage?
So, by now you’ve realised gum health is no laughing matter. You’re hopefully already on board with brushing, flossing and 6-monthly visits to the dentist. However, there’s another simple step you can take to improve your gum health. And it’s a humble old massage.
Why on earth would you bother to massage your gums?
Because massage helps boost blood circulation, delivering more nutrients and oxygen to the gum tissue. And according to research published in ORAL & implantology, increased oxygen can be very beneficial for those with gum disease.
Even in healthy mouths, better blood flow helps to accelerate healing, fight infection and improve overall health. If your gums are a little bit sore, it can alleviate pain. And, last but not least, it can dislodge any pesky food debris not removed through brushing or flossing.
How to massage gums the easy way
If you have sensitive teeth or a moody mouth, you might grimace at the idea of touching your gums. However, with the right tools and techniques, massage can help reduce pain and inflammation and prevent future dental dramas. While also being quite relaxing.
So, now you’re sold on the idea, how can you get started?
With a toothbrush, of course. But not just any old toothbrush. Hands-down the easiest way to reap the benefits of gum massage, with minimal effort, is by using a sonic electric toothbrush. Specifically, one that’s equipped with a gentle gum-care mode.
In the Advanced Whitening range, that’s the Sonic Toothbrush 2.0. Sending fluid into hard-to-reach spots using high-frequency vibrations, our brush promotes 360° dental care with three complementary modes.
Choose Clean for gentle daily brushing, Whiten for more powerful stain-removal, and Polish to gently massage gums. Designed for use after cleaning, the Polish mode stimulates blood circulation to the gums using short, fast pulses.
For optimal benefits, use it for 20–30 seconds after brushing, morning and night. Apply the brush head to the upper and lower gums and gently massage, using a circular motion.
3 other massaging techniques
Don’t have an electric toothbrush with built-in gum-care mode? Don’t worry. Here are three other dentist-approved methods you could also try.
- Using a gum stimulator
Long, thin, metal or plastic arms with a rubber or silicone tip, gum stimulators are odd-looking devices purpose-built for the job at hand. While regularly recommended for those dealing with gum disease, they can be used by anyone wanting better oral health.
To use, brush your teeth for 2 minutes and floss. Then, gently massage gum tissue along the gumline using the rubber tip. Slide it between your teeth to remove any remaining plaque or food particles, then rinse. Also, make sure you replace the head regularly.
- Massaging with your finger
While it might not be high tech, a fingertip can be an effective and gentle tool for massaging your gums. Simply place your index finger on your gums, under your lip, apply a little (but not too much) pressure, and massage in a circular motion. Move along until you’ve massaged both your upper and lower gums. Coconut oil can also be used for an easier glide – and, according to a 2014 study, it may also help reduce nasty gum bacteria.
- Water Flossing
Your dentist might also suggest using a water flosser (or water pick) to remove food particles and massage gums. However, as with any option, it’s important not to apply too much pressure. Follow the directions and advice of your dentist if this is your chosen technique.
Things to avoid when massaging gums
Just as over-zealous back-and-forth brushing can damage tooth enamel and lead to gum recession, overly firm gum massage can also do more harm than good. So, take your time, be gentle and listen to your mouth.
While there might be a small amount of discomfort when you first get started, it shouldn’t be painful. If you experience pain, or just don’t know if you’re mastering this massage business, speak to your dentist before continuing.
- Why your gums are so important to your health. Harvard Health Publishing.
Oral health: A window to your overall health. Mayo Clinic.