If you're concerned about receding gums, you probably noticed there is no shortage of dental care products (especially toothpastes) at your pharmacy marketed as "gum healthy." So what's the deal, do these things really work to help your receding gums from home? Read on to see what our clinicians say.
With 30% of American adults experiencing gum recession, and periodontitis linked to many health conditions including diabetes and heart disease, it's no wonder every oral care company is looking for ways to market their products as "gum healthy."
Take a walk down the oral care aisle and you'll be greeted by toothpastes that claim to "detox" the gums, or scrub away the disease-causing bacteria that gets trapped in and around the gum line. As a savvy consumer, you're probably wondering, "wait a minute, are these claims too good to be true?"
"Best toothpaste" for receding gums, what's the truth behind their claims?
What exactly makes a toothpaste good for your gums? The goal for any "gum health" toothpaste is to reduce the bacteria that cause gingival inflammation, also known as "gingivitis." To do this, these toothpastes add ingredients that are antibacterial and kill the bacteria that causes gingivitis.
If you turn over a tube of Parodontax or Crest Gum Detoxify, you'll find an active ingredient called stannous fluoride. Stanous fluoride is a chemical that helps kill the bacteria that's found in plaque. Several studies have been conducted that show toothpastes with stannous fluoride are better at reducing plaque build-up and gingivitis than sodium fluoride toothpastes. And since fluoride is a remineralizing agent, it also helps reduce sensitivity in enamel by forming a layer over any tiny holes in the enamel.
"Stannous is nothing new, in fact it's been around for years. The drawback of stannous is that it typically stains the tooth which is why it faded out some years ago. But recently oral care companies have determined they can stabilize it to reduce and even eliminate staining, which is why it has made a comeback," shares Wally hygienist Sarah Clark, RDH.
One other, highly effective, ingredient is Cloralstan© or stabilized chlorine dioxide, though it's harder to find since it's only found in CloSYS products.
Toothpaste can't do it alone
It's important to remember that toothpaste alone won't support your gums. It all hinges on the physical removal of bacteria, which comes from proper brushing and flossing techniques. Gum health toothpaste will provide an added benefit to further reduce bacteria and boost your results, but the foundation of those results come from brushing and flossing your teeth regularly and properly.
Best toothbrush for receding gums, the real key to the puzzle.
The key to healthy gums is to up your brushing and flossing game. To do that, you want to make sure you have the right tools. Our clinicians all agree that an electric toothbrush is far better than a manual brush.
There are a ton of electric toothbrush options out there, so it's important to find one that matches your mouth and your life. For some people the top-of-the-line $250 brush just isn't going to work in their budget. But there are a ton of GREAT options less than $100, the trick is being able to navigate which ones will actually work best for your mouth.
Reverse receding gums from home...is that even possible?
Unfortunately, you can't "reverse" gum recession. Once gum tissue has been lost it doesn't grow back, similar to losing a finger. Unless you're a gecko, but chances are you are a human if you're reading this.
But you CAN stop your gums from receding from home! Regardless of what is causing your gum recession you have the power to stop it. It's all about using the right oral care techniques everyday from home. While each person's exact techniques vary, here are a few guidelines our clinicians recommend for everyone:
- If you use medium or hard bristles, throw them out and buy a soft-head toothbrush.
- While good old fashioned elbow grease is required to scrub the food caked on a pan, the same technique does not apply for brushing your teeth. Be gentle when you brush, and if you have an electric toothbrush, let the brush guide your hand.
- Brush at least twice per day for two minutes to ensure you're scrubbing all the nooks and crannies around the gum line.
- Floss or use a water pik daily to keep the spaces between your teeth clean (of course we had to mention this)
- Wear a night guard if you grind or clench your teeth.
What else can you do to keep your gums healthy?
- Avoid the tools you can buy at the store or online (like at-home scaling products) that remove calculus or tartar. If you use these tools the wrong way, they can cause gum tissue trauma which can turn into permanent and serious damage.
- If you see bleeding after brushing or flossing, keep brushing and flossing! While the bleeding happens when you floss, it's not the floss that's causing the bleeding, in fact flossing is helping you if you see bleeding. Bacterial inflammation and irritation is causing the bleeding, and the best way to reduce that bacteria is to keep brushing and flossing.
- Don't skip your hygiene appointments. Calculus and tartar can only be removed by a dental professional. If it builds up it will continue to irritate and inflame the gums, leading to gum tissue damage and, over time, affecting the bone under the gum.
- If your dentist or hygienist recommends a deep cleaning, take it! Brushing and flossing are great for the surface of your teeth, but it doesn't access the bacteria under your gum line (where the deep clean targets). Leaving that bacteria below the gum line allows it to thrive and cause more damage. Yes, your gum will be sore after the deep clean, but think of it like an intense workout. It's better in the long run for your body 💪.
Gum health is one of the top concerns with our members and we enjoy helping them keep their gums as healthy as possible from home. If gum health is a priority for you, try our at-home starter kit and connect 1:1 with your virtual hygienist to discuss the right at-home routine and products to improve your gum health.
Want to learn more about gum recession? Check out "Gum Recession: Your ultimate guide" for everything you need to know, from how to keep gum recession from getting worse, the right products or procedures for gum recession, and what braces do to your gums.