Are You Damaging Your Tooth Enamel by Overbrushing?

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Proper toothbrush technique is essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. While dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day for proper oral health, overbrushing can lead to dental and oral health problems. The following information will educate you on the proper way to effectively clean your teeth and gums without damaging them.

The Dangers of Overbrushing

Overbrushing can lead to long-term tooth and gum damage. The people most at risk for damage from overbrushing are those who are extremely diligent about their oral care, have a predisposition to receding gums, or frequently clench or grind their teeth. 

  1. Tooth Abrasion: While brushing your teeth is important for removing plaque, forceful brushing can lead to tooth abrasion, or the loss of tooth enamel. Proper brushing technique is more important than forceful brushing.
  2. Sensitive Teeth: Heavy-handed brushing can wear the enamel layer of your tooth, exposing nerve endings in your porous dentin layer. Over time, this can cause your teeth to be more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. 
  3. Gum Recession: While teeth themselves have a hard protective surface, gum tissue does not. Aggressive brushing can overstress gum tissue and cause it to recede, exposing the roots of your teeth which do not have a tough coating of enamel and are more vulnerable to cavities. While correcting your brushing technique won’t reverse gum recession, it can prevent the problem from growing worse.

The Basics of Proper Brushing Technique

Brushing vigorously is not necessary to remove plaque and can lead to long-term dental problems. Use these five techniques to upgrade your normal brushing routine.

  1. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush: Soft-bristle toothbrushes are the most recommended by dentists because they are gentle on teeth and gums. Brushing vigorously with hard-bristled toothbrushes has the potential to damage your gums, root surface, and protective tooth enamel. Another option is using an electric toothbrush, which has an automated brushing motion designed to reduce the likelihood of overbrushing, when used properly.
  2. Position your brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum line while brushing: Hold your toothbrush upward for your top teeth and downward for your bottom teeth. This allows the bristles to clean under your gum line where plaque can build up.
  3. Brush your teeth in short, circular strokes: Circular brushing motions are more effective than back-and-forth brushing motions. 
  4. Apply light pressure while brushing: Take precaution to not apply too much pressure  while brushing. The toothbrush bristles should not bend or splay while brushing. If you are pressing down hard on your toothbrush, you are already exerting too much force. To apply the right amount of pressure, try holding your toothbrush with just your fingertips. This will help eliminate that impulse to press too hard. 
  5. Replace your toothbrush every three months. Over time, your toothbrush bristles will begin to bend and curve in the wrong direction. Frayed bristles can be abrasive on your gums, which can lead to premature gum recession and gum inflammation. They are also less effective in removing plaque around your gum line.

Final Word

If you regularly brush your teeth using incorrect technique, you may have an increased risk of tooth and gum damage. To gain a more comprehensive understanding of your dental health, book an appointment with one of our experienced dentists. He or she will examine your teeth for signs of overbrushing, instruct you on the right way to brush, and provide treatment options for any damage that has been caused.