Does massaging my gums actually help with oral health?

In a nutshell

  • Gum massages are often advertised at clinics, and recommended in non-scientific articles online
  • These massages are said to be effective in alleviating pain associated with TMJ disorders, and improve overall oral health
  • There is not enough scientific data present to definitively address or confirm these claims

According to some sources massaging the gingival tissues can regulate blood flow, and consequently improve the health of the structures supporting the teeth.

For TMJ disorders
Gum massages also been cited as an additional treatment for symptoms of Temporo-Mandibular Joint disorders. However it is important to under than TMJ disorders can result from a large number of factors.

According to a study conducted among patients of TMJ disorders and bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), it was concluded that gingival massaging did not have any significant effect on the reduction of pain or other symptoms associated with the conditions.

Gingival massaging when combined with other treatments, therapies and appliances however, showed a reduction in the intensity of signs and symptoms of severe TMD.

For overall oral health
Gingival oil massaging is often recommended for effective reduction of infection causing bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans, and Lactobacilli in the oral cavity.

For this purpose, sesame oil, olive oil or coconut oil should be massaged into the gingival tissues gently, daily, for three to four weeks.

When tested clinically, gingival oil massaging showed a significant reduction in the number of Streptococcus mutans, Lactobaccili, and overall plaque accumulation in the oral cavity.

The technique produced almost the same results as those of a popular dental products known as Chlorhexidine gel, which is a potent antibacterial agent.

This technique is particularly useful and important when considering low socio-economic groups who:

  • Do not have access to dental clinics and general dentists
  • Have limited awareness regarding the importance of oral hygiene
  • Do not have sufficient finances to get dental consultation or treatment
  • Are living with limited resources and low incomes
  • Cannot afford cleaning products such as tooth brushes and toothpastes
  • Show willingness to adopt natural/herbal treatments as opposed to manufactured ones

STRENGTH OF EVIDENCE: B

Individuals who are in a pinch or simply wish to switch to a more natural lifestyle can follow these steps to prevent bacterial growth, and improve oral health:

  • Take a 3-4 drops of sesame, olive or coconut oil
  • Massage it into the gums of the upper and lower jaws
  • Make sure the massage is done for at least 8-10 minutes
  • Gingival massages should be done on regular basis for optimal results

If the financial and economic condition is not a consideration, it is important to remember that for optimal oral health, dietary modifications, lifestyle modifications, routine visits to the dental clinic, and thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums at home are critical.

STRENGTH OF EVIDENCE: B

Gingival oil massaging has shown positive results in controlling and inhibiting the growth of infection causing bacteria in the mouth, almost as much as Chlorhexidine gel.

However, there aren’t many studies that can definitely conclude whether or not gingival massaging on its own, has any role to play in treating any symptoms of jaw pain, teeth grinding, or TMJ disorders.

OUR RULING:

Gingival massaging on its own cannot treat TMJ disorders, or contribute to optimal oral health unless it is combined with other therapies, treatments, lifestyle modifications, and maintaining a good hygiene regime.

OUR SOURCES:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158583/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25512839/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/13025807/

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How we grade evidence?

Learn more about it here.