You take oral hygiene seriously and brush diligently. But is it possible to overdo your routine? Today, our North York dentists offer insight into how overbrushing your teeth can actually harm them, and how much we should all aim to brush.
Could I be overbrushing my teeth?
While you probably understand the great importance of maintaining your oral health, it is possible to brush your teeth too much. Excessive brushing, or overbrushing, can damage your teeth and gums - just the opposite of what you want to achieve.
How can overbrushing harm my teeth?
You’ve known since childhood that brushing your teeth is critical to the long-term health of your teeth and gums - and your overall health. But our North York dentists caution against overdoing it, as excessive brushing can cause your teeth to become sensitive and your gums to recede.
The outer layer of our teeth can get worn down by acidic beverages, and too-hard brushing. Once that enamel is lost, your teeth have less protection against hot and cold temperatures. Our tender gums can also become damaged from the bristles of our toothbrush if we’re not careful, and may eventually begin to recede.
When this occurs, tooth roots are exposed, which leaves them vulnerable to decay and periodontal disease.
Overbrushing can happen whether we’re brushing for too long or too vigorously. Here are some signs you may be brushing too hard:
- Bleeding or swollen gums after brushing
- Receding gums
- Splayed toothbrush bristles
- Tooth abrasion (tooth enamel is progressively lost)
It’s also critical to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste in conjunction with easing up on your brushing motion. This should preserve your tooth enamel and gums while still cleaning your mouth in between your preventive dental hygiene appointments.
How should I brush my teeth?
To remove all the sticky plaque that attaches to our teeth and causes tartar and disease (which is really the entire point of brushing), it’s important to remember that good brushing technique matters more than brushing hard.
Here are some specific tips:
- You may choose to use an electric toothbrush or a soft-bristled regular toothbrush.
- Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle, and aim at your gum line.
- Gently brush the surface of your teeth in a circular motion, applying enough pressure to feel the bristles of your brush against your gums. This cleans the enamel and removes plaque.
- Picture your mouth divided into quadrants. Brush each quadrant for 30 seconds - two minutes per brushing session for your entire mouth. Brush at least two or three times per day.