The first lesson you learn about your teeth is to brush twice a day, every day. While the most common struggle is to get into that routine, there is another potential problem with brushing. Brushing too much or too hard can wear down your teeth and cause what’s known as toothbrush abrasions.
Dentists have estimated that between 10% to 20% of the population have damaged their teeth or gums from over-brushing. Here are a few key signs that you’re brushing too hard.
Are Your Teeth Feeling Sensitive?
Abrasion is the loss of tooth enamel and the covering on tooth roots due to regular abrasive contact. If you’re over-brushing, the biggest sign is sensitivity to hot and cold foods or general liquids. If you’re noticing this, the next thing to look for is notches or chips in the teeth; this is a sign that something is wearing them down. Either of these will mean that your enamel has worn away and your nerve endings have been exposed.
Are Your Gums Receding?
We commonly associate gum recession with plaque buildup, but over-brushing can cause this as well. In some cases, overly vigorous motion can press the gums back, exposing sensitive root areas and increasing your chances for cavities and root canals.
Are You High Risk?
Toothbrush abrasions aren’t necessarily the result of over-brushing and can even be the result of factors beyond your control. If you’ve ever had braces, you’re at an increased risk for abrasions and will need to brush more carefully. This also goes for genetic factors—if you have a family history of dental issues, it could mean that your enamel is particularly sensitive. Even things like chewing or grinding your teeth excessively can increase your risks.
How Do I Fix Over-Brushing?
The most important way to address over-brushing is to change your habits. Instead of focusing on the strength and duration of your brushing, pay attention to the angle of the brush, making sure it’s at 45 degrees and that you’re making short, circular scrubbing motions. If you’re feeling the bristles bend and squish against your teeth, you’re pushing too hard.
Next, make sure that you’re brushing for under two minutes. A timer can help you get into the rhythm of a proper brush time.
If you’re concerned about over brushing, you should get a new brush with softer bristles. This can significantly minimize the damage that over-brushing can do. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent gum damage and wear on the soft tooth dentin (the less mineralized layer of tooth found just under the enamel) and in the root area. If you are accustomed to a hard-bristled toothbrush, even using a softer one will help.
Finally, be more conscious of your diet. If you’re brushing too soon after eating acidic foods like fruit or fish, it can actually spread the acid across the enamel of your teeth.
If you’re noticing any of these issues or want to make sure you’re taking proper care of your teeth, contact us today to schedule an appointment.