In many situations, people are praised for “giving it their all.” Picture a runner sprinting to the finish line, a student using every spare minute to study for an exam, or a drummer who leaves the stage with calloused fingers and a sweaty brow. They’re congratulated for their hard work, for pushing themselves to the limit. But in other situations, it’s best to use some restraint. Take, for example, brushing your teeth. If you brush your teeth as hard as possible, using all your strength and energy, your teeth will end up clean but also irreparably damaged. That’s why dental professionals often emphasize that you should brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Whether you’re an overzealous brusher or the parent of one, watch out for the symptoms of over-brushing teeth.
If you’re brushing too hard, your mouth will show it – and your dentist and dental hygienists will notice. Watch out for these symptoms of over-brushing teeth.
Symptoms of Over-Brushing Teeth
Splayed Toothbrush Bristles
Does your toothbrush look like it’s been put through the wringer? Are the bristles frayed and splayed out? Although toothbrush bristles will naturally fray over time and it’s important to replace your toothbrush regularly (about four times per year), splayed-out bristles are a sign that you’re a bit overzealous about toothbrushing. So lighten up! Also, be sure that you purchase soft-bristled toothbrushes.
Also known as toothbrush abrasion, over-brushing your teeth can wear away their enamel. Without this protective outer coating, your teeth may feel more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. If you wince every time you eat ice cream or drink hot coffee, you may need to brush your teeth more gently.
Swollen, Red, and Bleeding Gums
Rough brushing can also damage your gum tissue, causing swollen and red gums immediately after brushing. You may even notice your gums bleeding. If you see streaks of red when you spit after brushing, brush more gently. Also, remember that flossing regularly can have a big impact on your gum health.
Over time, over-brushing may cause your gums to recede. You may notice dull, darker portions of your teeth near the gum line, which are the root surfaces of the tooth. If the roots of your teeth are exposed, they will be vulnerable to periodontal disease and decay. And unfortunately, once gums have receded, they won’t grow back. Although there are treatment options for receding gums, they aren’t viable options for all patients. Preserve your gums now by brushing gently.
While it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice a day, you don’t need to worry about brushing with all your might. Gentle, circular motions using a soft-bristled brush will effectively clean your teeth and gums without wearing away the enamel or causing your gums to recede. Remember: vigorous brushing isn’t necessary to remove plaque. Instead, focus on brushing your teeth for a full two minutes each time and hitting all of the surfaces where plaque might hide in your mouth. Thorough brushing, unlike aggressive brushing, is vital for good oral health.
If you have questions about your brushing technique, ask your dental hygienist for advice at your next appointment. They may recommend a specific soft-bristled toothbrush, an electric toothbrush, or a toothbrushing trick (like holding your toothbrush with only three fingers, which reduces the amount of pressure on the brush). It’s never too late to start good oral hygiene habits.
Looking for a new dentist in Springfield, Missouri? Contact Wilkinson Dental. Your comfort and oral health are our top priorities. If you’re ready to set up an appointment, please give us a call at 417-708-0556 or schedule one online. We look forward to hearing from you!