Brushing your teeth is essential for proper dental hygiene, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. It may seem like brushing your teeth several times per day for five minutes will keep your mouth as clean and healthy as possible, but over brushing can actually be harmful to your teeth and gums.
How Much Is Too Much?
There are a few different types of over brushing. Some people brush their teeth too many times per day, some brush for too long each time, and some brush too forcefully or aggressively.
The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth just two times per day. As long as you brush carefully and thoroughly, this should be enough to keep your mouth clean and healthy. However, some people brush after every meal to alleviate bad breath or just to freshen up. It’s easy to get in the habit of brushing your teeth whenever you have bad taste in your mouth. Brushing more than twice per day isn’t always harmful, but it can cause damage when achieved daily for an extended period of time.
The ADA also recommends brushing for only two or three minutes per day. You should spend about 30 to 45 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth, but any longer is unnecessary. It might seem like scrubbing your teeth for five or six minutes will make your mouth cleaner, but with proper brushing technique, you’ll have eliminated any plaque, bacteria, or food debris within the first two or three minutes.
Even if you only brush twice per day for two minutes, it’s possible to overbrush your teeth by brushing too hard. You just need to apply gentle pressure, and doing it forcefully can have the same effect as brushing too often or for too long.
Effects of Brushing Your Teeth Too Much
Over time, over brushing can have a negative effect on your dental health. Brushing too much can wear out the tooth enamel, which will make it more brittle and increase the risk of damage, cavities, and sensitivity. Once your enamel has worn down, it can’t regrow or replenish itself.
Over Brushing can also wear out the gums by pushing them back over time. Eventually, your gums can recede so much that they’ll reveal the root of the tooth, which can cause pain and sensitivity.
Some people are at an increased risk of gum and tooth issues, so they should be especially careful not to brush too much. For example, people who clench their teeth already may have damaged enamel or receding gums that can be made even worse with overbrushing. People who have had braces should be careful, too. Proper oral hygiene is essential for healthy teeth and gums, so it’s essential to find the perfect balance of brushing thoroughly but not too much.
How to Avoid Over-brushing Your Teeth
The easiest way to avoid over brushing is to follow the American Dental Association’s recommendation of brushing twice a day for two minutes. Also, make sure you don’t brush too vigorously. Dental plaque is very soft, and you don’t need to do it hard to remove it. Thoroughness is more important than force or pressure.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush instead of a medium or hard one. A soft-bristled brush will be entirely effective, and it will help you avoid wearing out your gums, enamel, and dentin, the layer of tooth underneath the enamel.
To prevent damage to your gums, keep your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line. Move the brush with short strokes in a scrubbing or circular motion instead of long strokes back and forth across your teeth.
If you’re used to brushing your teeth whenever you have bad taste in your mouth, it might be hard to break the habit. However, there are lots of other strategies you can try to keep your mouth fresh throughout the day. After you brush your teeth, use a tongue scraper to remove any plaque and bacteria on your tongue that the brush misses. This is very effective for keeping your mouth fresh and clean.
Avoiding sugary foods and drinks can help prevent plaque from building up in your mouth, too. Also, drink lots of water to clear away food debris and plaque and to prevent dry mouth, which can cause a bad taste. Mouthwash can freshen up your breath and kill bacteria without wearing down your teeth and gums, and sugar-free gum can improve the taste in your mouth as well.
Dr. Marc Lazare offers a wide variety of dental services, including cosmetic dentistry, implants, and laser dental treatments. If you have any dental issues or concerns, you can set up a consultation and meet with one of their experienced dentists to discuss your options. For more information, click here.