For as long as most of us can remember, we’ve been told to brush our teeth on a daily basis. In fact, you may be familiar with the “2 MIN 2 X” rule that recommends patients of all ages brush twice a day for two minutes each session in order to retain optimal oral health. While we spend most of our time encouraging patients to brush more often or brush more effectively, there are also warnings against over-brushing.
Tooth brushing is both necessary and beneficial to your smile health. Brushing removes plaque, bacteria and food debris from the teeth and gums so that you can avoid bad breath, decay and gum disease. But can you get “too much of a good thing” when it comes to brushing? Yes! Patients who brush too hard or with too much aggression can sabotage their oral hygiene efforts and experience harm rather than good. Here are two main consequences of using too much force or “over-brushing” your teeth:
The enamel of your teeth is the strongest substance in your body. However, if you are over-brushing your teeth with a medium or hard bristled brush, you are likely to wear down this outer layer over time and suffer from sensitivity as a result. This occurs because the inner dentin layer is more exposed, which also means you are more vulnerable to decay and stubborn staining. If you consider yourself an aggressive brusher and you experience tooth pain when eating or drinking hot and cold items, you may need to back off on your brushing efforts to protect your teeth.
Over-brushing can also affect your gums. Your gums are the delicate tissues that support your teeth. While they commonly bleed with hard brushing, your gums can also recede or become pushed back away from the tooth root. This can cause sensitive teeth and make your teeth look longer than they once were. More importantly, your tooth roots are now exposed to harmful plaque and bacteria. Patients may end up with decay, worsening gum disease or even loose teeth if their over-brushing habits continue.
What to Remember When Brushing
While it may seem that the harder your scrub the cleaner it will be, this simply isn’t the case when it comes to your teeth. Plaque is sticky but it is an easily removed substance that doesn’t require heavy force. A soft-bristled brush and moderate pressure is enough to rid your teeth and gums of harmful bacteria, food debris and plaque. Make sure you are using short strokes with your toothbrush positioned at a 45-degree angle. Toothbrush bristles that fray long before three months of use is also a warning sign of over-brushing.
If you are concerned that your aggressive brushing habits have caused dental damage, please give us a call. At Gilreath Dental Associates, we offer a full menu of treatments to restore your teeth and gums. Most importantly, we will educate you on proper brushing techniques going forward.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,