Many people believe that by brushing their teeth hard, they are removing more plaque and food debris. However, this commonly made mistake can cause tooth damage and sensitivity.
Dentists recommend brushing twice a day, in the morning after breakfast and in the evening before bed. Two minutes is the recommended amount of time per brushing session, although millions of Americans fall short on time, which can leave behind plaque and food on the teeth.
Without proper brushing technique, you are more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease because of harmful oral bacteria that are responsible for eating away at enamel and gingival tissue.
If you’re up-to-date with your dental visits and you brush and floss regularly, you simply need to know, are you brushing correctly?
Brushing incorrectly is common for many reasons. The most common reason is people are unaware of the correct brushing technique or they fall short on the two minutes of daily recommended brushing. In fact, the average amount of time people brush for is only 45 seconds!
If you experience signs like pain from certain foods or sensitivity when you’re smiling or catch some cold air, you may be brushing too hard.
Signs you’re brushing too hard
There are numerous signs that you may be using your toothbrush a bit too rigorously. Sometimes there are clinical symptoms like sensitivity, and other signs may require a visual examination by a dentist.
- Receding gums: When you brush too hard at the gumline, you may be brushing away your gum tissue to pull away from the tooth, revealing the root and subgingival tooth structure. This can lead to sensitivity, and over the long-term can even lead to gum disease.
- Severe toothbrush wear: If you notice your toothbrush looks like it came out of your dog’s mouth, there is a good chance you’re brushing too hard. A toothbrush should ideally be changed every three months. If your bristles are worn away and misshapen, it may mean you’re putting too much pressure when brushing.
- Tooth sensitivity: Brushing too hard can wear away enamel and reveal inner layers of the tooth like the dentin layer. Dentin has nerves in it, and when exposed to extreme temperature changes can be painful.
- Dull teeth appearance: You may notice that your teeth don’t appear shiny and bright, and there is more of a darker, yellow hue. This can indicate that the darker dentin layer is showing through, and there is enamel wear from brushing too hard.
- Tooth decay: Brushing too hard can wear away protective enamel and leave teeth more prone to developing cavities. Moon-shaped cavities are often seen at the gum line or on the root surface of people who brush too hard.
Brushing too hard is very harmful
Gum tissue should be looked at like gold because once you lose any gum tissue, you can’t get it back. While you cannot replace enamel tooth structure, a dental filling can help restore teeth from decay. Gum tissue that is worn away is not as easily replaceable as you would require a gum graft and surgery.
Overbrushing can leave you with extremely sensitive teeth, making it uncomfortable to eat or drink without pain.
You may not be able to whiten your teeth with bleaching gel because it would cause too much pain and sensitivity if you have enamel wear from brushing.
Since overbrushing can leave you with irreversible results, it is important to look at ways to prevent this habit. If you have already done some damage, maintenance is key.
Simple ways to prevent brushing too hard
There are some easy ways you can still maintain great oral health without damaging your teeth. Some great tips to keep your teeth healthy include:
- Proper brushing technique: Proper brushing is one of the first things you need to learn so that you can adequately keep your teeth clean, but also safe. Brush at a 45-degree angle in tiny circles on each tooth surface. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing for a minimum of two minutes to remove all surface debris.
- Use the right bristle toothbrush: Brushing with a medium or hard bristle brush is harmful to your teeth and gums because it is extremely abrasive. Instead, opt for a toothbrush with soft or extra-soft bristles.
- Use an electric toothbrush with a built-in sensor: A manual brush with soft bristles or an electric toothbrush with a sensor that vibrates and alarms you if you brush too hard is a great way to reduce putting too much pressure on your teeth.
- Monitor your brush: If you notice that your bristles are worn down and flat, it’s a sign you are brushing too hard. Keep an eye on your toothbrush wear and if you see it start to fray quickly, limit the pressure you’re using when brushing.
- Use a non-abrasive toothpaste: Some toothpaste contain harsh, abrasive materials that can cause wear and tear on the teeth. Think of the very popular charcoal toothpaste commonly used for whitening, and it can cause enamel wear over time. Use a paste that is ADA approved and safe for your mouth.
- Visit your dentist: Going for routine dental visits every six months is an important way to get a professional opinion on how your teeth look. Your dentist will monitor your teeth and gums to ensure they’re in top shape.
Treatment options for brushing too hard
Unfortunately, tooth structure and gum tissue do not grow back like hair or nails. But, if you have enamel wear or gum recession, you can speak with your dentist about treatment that can limit your symptoms.
Treatment often involves:
- Dental fillings
- Gum surgery
- Silver diamine fluoride (SDF)
- Scaling and root planing
- Crowns and crown lengthening
Brushing your teeth seems like a simple task, and usually, it is! But, in the case you are brushing too hard, you may be doing more damage than good. The best thing you can do for your teeth is attending your dental appointments and discuss your brushing habits with your dentists and hygienist. This way, you’re on the right path to brushing correctly and establishing great oral care habits for life! For more questions contact the team at Caldwell, Bills, Petrilli & West & West today.