You’ve probably been told your whole life that you need to brush your teeth twice a day to achieve optimal oral health and wellness. This is certainly true—but has anyone ever told you that you can actually brush your teeth too hard? Dentists estimate that 10 – 20 percent of people damage their teeth or gums from overbrushing. Keep reading to learn more about the potential dangers of brushing your teeth too hard, along with some tips from your dentist concerning proper brushing methods.
The Dangers of Overbrushing Your Teeth
Brushing regularly helps to preserve the integrity of your enamel, gumline, and more—but it’s possible to overdo a good thing! Vigorous brushing can wear down your enamel and push back your gums, exposing the sensitive root area of your teeth. This can also lead to other problems including cavities and periodontal disease, which will need to be addressed by your dentist.
Signs You Might Be Brushing Too Hard
The effects of overbrushing aren’t immediately apparent but occur gradually over time—this means that prolonging necessary treatment is a bad idea! Some signs you might be brushing too hard include:
- Tooth Sensitivity – If you notice that your teeth are increasingly sensitive to extremely hot or cold temperatures, you could be experiencing enamel erosion as a result of overbrushing.
- Gum Recession – Your gumline can also begin to recede or become uneven, exposing the roots of your teeth.
- Discoloration Near the Gums – Your teeth are actually a darker shade beneath your gums because there’s less enamel present, so gum recession can give the appearance of discoloration.
- Worn toothbrush bristles – If you’re inspecting your toothbrush and noticing frayed, worn bristles, you’re probably overbrushing.
How To Properly Brush Your Teeth
When you’re brushing your teeth, it’s not about how hard you scrub—it’s about using the proper technique. Here are some tips for brushing your teeth correctly and effectively:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent gum damage and wear on the dentin (the less mineralized later of tooth found just under the enamel).
- Place the tips of your bristles at a 45-degree angle to your gumline when brushing.
- Move your toothbrush with short strokes in a circular, scrubbing motion—don’t saw back and forth across your teeth.
- Apply just enough pressure to feel the bristles against the gums; if you feel the bristles squashing against your gums, you’re pressing too hard.
- Don’t rush—brush for at least two full minutes twice a day.
Brushing incorrectly can be just as harmful as not brushing at all—but by knowing how to identify the signs of overbrushing and utilizing correct brushing techniques, you can ensure that your toothbrush does what it’s supposed to do for your smile!
About the Author
Dr. Anthony Giamberardino has served patients and families in the Medford area since 1993! He received his dental doctorate from the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and holds membership in many professional organizations including the American Dental Association, the Massachusetts Dental Society and more. His practice is proud to offer many available services including preventive, cosmetic, restorative, and emergency dentistry. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, feel free to reach out online or by phone: (781) 396-3800.