How To Brush Your Teeth and Prevent Gum Recession

How to brush your teeth and prevent gum recession

Aggressive tooth brushing, incorrect technique, and not cleaning your teeth enough can both result in gum recession. The good news is that by using the correct technique, you can gently brush your teeth and prevent gum recession. 

This post:

  • briefly highlights the causes of gum recession
  • explain how to brush your teeth in a way that prevents gum recession
  • provides advice on how to brush your teeth with gum recession. 

What Causes The Gums to Recede?

Two things can lead to gingival recession. These are.

1) Loss of bone which supports the gingival tissue (dental speak for gums). As bone is lost the level of the gum tissue gets lower (it’s receded). There are 2 causes of this.

  • As we age, bone density decreases all over the body including in the jaw. 
  • Untreated periodontal diseases, gingivitis and periodontitis, triggered by dental plaque, lead to a reduction in the bone that holds the teeth in place. 

2) Wear and tear  – Aggressive brushing and oral piercings constantly rubbing over the gums can wear them away. 

How To Brush Your Teeth and Prevent Gum Recession

The goal of tooth brushing is for it to be effective enough to disrupt the plaque yet gentle enough so gum tissue isn’t worn away.

It may help you to think of the process as gently massaging the gums as opposed to scrubbing away like you would at a stain on a hard floor. Follow these steps to eliminate the risk of wearing gums away whilst effectively disrupting plaque twice daily. 

  • Brush your teeth, twice a day, making sure plaque is disrupted. Ensure you clean all surfaces of the teeth. If you struggle accessing the back teeth using a child’s toothbrush or a single tufted toothbrush can help you clean these areas properly.  
  • Toothpaste – whilst you don’t need toothpaste to disrupt the plaque bacteria (the bristles can do this on their own) – however, toothpaste helps give us a minty fresh breath, neutralize bacterial acid and adds fluoride to the teeth.
  • Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush brushes with medium or hard bristles have been shown to damage the gum tissue. A soft brush effectively cleans the gums and teeth without causing damage. 
  • Interdental cleaning – Clean between the teeth daily, using a single tufted toothbrush, interdental brushes or floss.
  • Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three to four months.

Manual brushing

When using a manual toothbrush using the correct angle and pressure reduces the wear and tear of the gum tissue. Plaque bacteria can also be disrupted from along the gum line. 

Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle along the line of the gums.

Many people make the error of holding the brush flat against their teeth. This technique doesn’t allow the bristles to access the crevices which harbor plaque bacteria and debris. By angling the brush at 45 degrees, the bristles skim under the gum line and disrupt plaque bacteria, food debris, and sugar residue.  

Use a small circular massaging motion

  • To disrupt the plaque there’s no need to scrub or apply lots of pressure – gently massaging the gums is enough to disrupt the plaque. Use a small circular motion as you move around the mouth, ensuring you cover every surface of the tooth. 

Lifestyle Changes Can Help Reduce Gum Recession

To help prevent gum recession and periodontal disease it’s beneficial to 

  • Stop smoking if you smoke cigarettes, or use e-cigarettes, vape, or tobacco
  • Control blood sugar levels if diabetic
  • Eat a nutrient-rich diet and reduce the frequency and amount of sugary snacks and drinks. This reduces the sugary food source that plaque bacteria thrive on, and it also provides nutrients for healthy teeth, bones, and gums.

How To Brush Your Teeth With Gum Recession

If you already have gums that have receded, as well as gently brushing your gums when you clean as indicated above, there are a few steps you can take to reduce further gums loss and reduce sensitivity. These include

  • Switching to a toothpaste suitable for sensitive teeth.
  • Use a toothbrush designed for those with gum recession. Electric toothbrushes with fitted pressure indicators such as Oral B 3000 or a manual brush with ultra-soft bristles like the Swedish-made Curaprox are ideal.
  • Ask your dentist about resins and fluoride varnishes which can be applied to reduce sensitivity and the risk of bacterial acids causing decay in the tooth roots.  

Other Causes of Gum Recession

In addition to aggressive tooth brushing and periodontal disease, there are some other causes of receding gums you should be aware of.

  • Bone loss due to the natural aging process – from around age 50 bone density begins to decrease, as bone loss in the jaw occurs, the gum tissue begins to shrink back. We can’t do anything about our age but taking steps to reduce bone loss in general as we age may help.
  • Misaligned teeth – if your teeth are crooked and uneven you may have thin tissue covering them, it can be worn down more quickly. Braces and clear aligner therapy can realign teeth and help prevent gum recession. 
  • Smoking – smoking reduces blood flow to the gums and increases the risk of bone loss and periodontal disease. Quitting will help prevent gum recession. 
  • Oral piercings – the constant movement of tongue and lip piercing over the gum tissue can wear them away. Removal of piercing will prevent gum recession.

Beat Gum Disease at Home and Stop Further Recession

Knowledge is power where beating gum disease is concerned. Gum Disease: Solved online education tool arms you with the information to understand why you have gum disease and how you can beat it in only 10 minutes per day at home, without the need for costly and ineffective dental visits.

Beat Gum Disease Now

When To See a Dentist

Dental check-ups are recommended to detect gum recession and other issues early. Dentists can also

  • Give you personalized, specific advice on how to brush your teeth
  • Treat any periodontal disease and prevent your receding gums from worsening
  • Suggest treatment plans for any pain and sensitivity caused by receding gums

In Summary

You can prevent gum recession from developing or getting worse by brushing the teeth in the correct way to remove plaque whilst avoiding damaging the tissue.

If you would like more information on the correct technique and tools to prevent periodontal disease and gum recession at home, you may find our Gum Pocket Brush and Course invaluable.


Sharon Fyles image

Written by Sharon Fyles

Periodontitis Expert & Writer

Sharon Fyles, BSc (Hons, SW), MSc, Dip,  is a Manchester-based expert dental writer specialising in periodontal diseases and their treatment.


Medically Reviewed and Verified by Dr. Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons), MFDS (RCPS Glasgow)

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