When you brush your teeth, you aim to leave them completely clean and free of all food debris and bacteria, right? To accomplish this, you might try to brush with more force. After all, that’s how cleaning often works. When you’re struggling to get dried tomato sauce out of a pot, you scrub hard! When you want a spotless shower, you scrub those tiles with all your might! When cleaning your barbecue grill, you might even bust out the steel wool! When it comes to your oral health, however, brushing harder does not ensure healthier teeth. In fact, it can actually be detrimental. Are you brushing your teeth too hard?
The Dangers of Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard
Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time using a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove plaque, prevent tooth decay, and lower your risk of developing gum disease. Some people brush a little more often — perhaps three times a day or after every meal — to keep their teeth clean and their mouths minty fresh. However, it’s important that you don’t brush your teeth too often or too vigorously. If you do, you will put yourself at risk for dental abrasion, receding gums, and tooth sensitivity.
Dental abrasion refers to the loss of tooth structure due to mechanical forces. Your teeth may seem sturdy, but they’re more vulnerable than you think. If you brush too hard, you’ll actually wear away the enamel. Eventually, you might wear away dentin and cementum too. If you notice worn, shiny spots near your gumline, typically yellow or brown in color, you may be experiencing dental abrasion. You might also notice a wedge or v-shaped indentation, known as notching, near the gum line.
Tooth sensitivity occurs after toothbrush abrasion in cases of overbrushing. As enamel is worn away, the nerve endings become closer to the surface of the teeth and may even be exposed. This can cause sensitivity, discomfort, or pain when your teeth are exposed to things that are hot, cold, sweet, or sour. It can also make brushing your teeth uncomfortable.
Gum recession can occur due to vigorous brushing as well. The rough movement can wear away at the gum tissue, which may expose the vulnerable root of the tooth. This can lead to tooth sensitivity and pain, and it also increases the risk of tooth decay.
Are You Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard?
Are you brushing your teeth too hard? If you’re concerned, talk to your dentist or dental hygienist for personalized feedback. You can also keep an eye out for these symptoms of over-brushing teeth:
- Splayed toothbrush bristles
- Sensitive teeth
- Swollen, red gums
- Bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Worn, shiny, possibly yellow/brown spots on teeth near the gum line
- Wedge or v-shaped indentations on teeth near the gum line
How Can You Avoid Over-Brushing Your Teeth?
To avoid over-brushing your teeth, abide by the following rules:
- Two Minutes, Twice a Day: Stick to the dentist-recommended routine of brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Don’t overdo it.
- Soft Bristles: Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles. Stiffer bristles may seem like they’d be more effective for cleaning, but they can damage your gums and enamel. You can use either a manual or an electric toothbrush.
- Fluoride Toothpaste: Avoid toothpaste that contains abrasive agents like those derived from chalk and silica. Instead, opt for toothpaste rich in calcium and fluoride, which will strengthen your tooth enamel. Look for the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance on the package or tube.
- Brush Gently: Avoid using too much pressure. Do your bristles become frayed and flattened after just a couple of weeks? You’re probably brushing too hard.
- Wait to Brush After Eating: Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after eating, especially if you’ve consumed something acidic (fruits, soda, ketchup, sugary candies, tomatoes, etc.). Acidic foods weaken tooth enamel, so if you brush your teeth immediately after eating them, you’ll damage the enamel. Wait about 30-60 minutes, giving the enamel time to remineralize.
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask your dental hygienist or dentist for advice regarding proper brushing techniques.
If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. For exceptional and comprehensive dental care, schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!