Why is addressing gum disease important?
The grim facts speak for themselves:
- Over 90% of adults have some form of active gum disease by the age of 30.
- A whopping 65% of children already show signs of active gum disease by the time they are 15 years old!
Given these statistics, we consider gum disease to be the elephant in the living room. Mainstream dentistry has dropped the ball on gum disease and instead chosen to focus on tooth decay, using ‘the drill and fill’ business model.
But that just won’t cut it for us.
What starts as a little tenderness and swelling between molars turns to gums bleeding when flossing and chronic bad breath. This then leads to receding gums and loose teeth, and eventually, even adult tooth loss.
Unfortunately, gum disease isn’t just about chronic bad breath and bleeding gums. Besides being the #1 cause of adult tooth loss, there is also a clear link between active gum disease and chronic health disease. Whether we are talking about arthritis, heart disease or diabetes, research has found that the ‘bad bugs’ in our mouths contribute to suppressing immunity, the breakdown of our systems, and ultimately disease. And it makes sense! If you think about it, gum disease is a rampant bacterial infection with direct access to the whole body via the bloodstream!
We must do more than brush our teeth to create optimal health.
Through specific oral hygiene habits, we can actually lower the incidence of bad bugs in our mouths and the risk of rampant bacterial invasion of the body.
Clues About Gum Disease From History
Thankfully, we can look back in history to find evidence unvarnished by greed or political agendas to learn how we can address gum disease. A few notable figures in health history include Weston A Price, Max Gerson, and Edward and May Mellanby. But today, we’d like to highlight Dr. Charles C. Bass, one of the first to shed light on the subject of gum disease.
Dr. Bass was a remarkable man. He was the youngest person to become a dean of a medical school, and the first person to carry a microscope west of the Mississippi River.
When Dr. Bass was diagnosed with advanced gum disease and instructed by his dentist to have all of his teeth extracted, he decided to take things into his own hands. (Dr. Bass had already discovered parasites through the use of his microscope.) Dr. Bass put his skills toward figuring out what was causing the destruction in his mouth.
Using his microscope, he easily identified the same ‘”bad bugs” that plague most mouths today. He then set out to figure out a technique that would help to disrupt and remove the bad bugs from his mouth. Through extensive trial and error, Dr. Bass created a toothbrush and method that effectively disrupts and removes bacteria from the teeth and gums.
As an example of history, Dr. Bass died an old man with all his natural teeth in tact. It’s a good thing he didn’t listen to his dentist!
Why The Bass Brushing Technique Works
The Bass brushing technique works because the focus is on disrupting and removing the bacteria that accumulate along and under the gum line as well as between the teeth. Created by extensive trial and error, the Bass brushing technique is very effective at reducing gum disease when used correctly.
To be able to use the technique effectively, we must understand that the “bad bugs” related to gum disease organize along and under the gum line, especially between the molars. Therefore our focus must be to gently wiggle the bristles down into these areas to break up the bacteria’s colonization efforts.
Unfortunately, signs of early gum disease are swollen, red, tender gums. Without the conscious awareness that these are signs of gum disease, most people avoid brushing the infected area due to discomfort around the swollen gums. This allows the infection to continue unhindered.
The Right Tool for the Job
What we have from Dr. Bass’ life are the Bass toothbrush and the Bass brushing technique.
The Bass toothbrush differs from most toothbrushes in two ways:
1. The bristles of a Bass toothbrush are more spaced out, and there are fewer bristles on the brush head. What Dr. Bass found was that most toothbrushes had far too many bristles to wiggle effectively between the teeth and down into the gum line. So, he created a brush with fewer bristles that allows the brush to get down where the bad bugs thrive and remove any bacteria. The same is true today as most conventional toothbrushes have too many bristles to use the Bass brushing technique.
2. The second way the Bass toothbrush differs from other toothbrushes is that the bristle tips of the Bass brush are rounded, polished and very smooth. See the photos below to compare the rounded bristle tips of the Bass toothbrush and the jagged, rough-cut tips of many other toothbrushes.
Left: rounded, polished bristle tips of the Bass toothbrush
Right: jagged, rough cut bristles of other toothbrushes
Instructions For The Bass Brushing Technique
1. Hold the toothbrush gently! We like to joke that we’re not cleaning a grout line here! Rather than hold the toothbrush like a scrub brush, press it gently so your arm can relax and apply the small movements required for the Bass brushing technique.
2. Hold the brush at the commonly recognized 45-degree angle to the tooth and gum line.
3. Think small. The main difference in the Bass technique is how small the movements are. The Bass brushing technique uses subtle lateral strokes along the gum line.
It’s almost like you aren’t “brushing” your teeth at all! Rather, place the toothbrush at a spot along the gum line and gently wiggle it with slight, subtle back-and-forth motions that get the bristles down between the teeth and under the gum line.
4. Count to five, then move to the next place with your brush and repeat.
The small motion takes practice, but in time, you will be amazed at how much healthier your gums feel!
Your Teeth Will Thank You Too!
Another significant problem with conventional brushing methods is that they damage the protective outer layer (enamel) of your teeth. Take a look at the following facts:
- Research has shown that many folks brush their teeth too hard and ultimately damage their enamel.
- Many toothbrushes have rough cut bristles (rather than the rounded-tip bristles on the Bass brushes) that can scratch enamel and irritate gum tissue.
- A primary cause of receding gums is brushing the sensitive gum tissue too hard, with a toothbrush with rough cut bristles!
- Many name-brand toothpastes use hydrated silica as an abrasive which has been shown to etch teeth and damage enamel.
Putting these factors together creates a situation where many people may be doing more harm than good when brushing!
So, rather than dragging your toothbrush over the surface of the teeth, try out the Bass technique and see how it feels!
Watch the instructional video showing the Bass brushing technique below to get a clearer picture of how you should be brushing:
Now you know how to brush your teeth to reduce gum disease!
Have you tried the Bass brushing technique? Do you have questions or feedback about the method? As always, we love to keep the discussion going in the comments below!