Brushing regularly is essential to dental health. But over-brushing, particularly with a hard toothbrush, can lead to toothbrush abrasion. Brushing too hard can damage teeth and gum tissue. It is estimated that 10-20% of the population have damaged their teeth or gums due to consistent vigorous brushing.
We tend the think that significant effort is required to keep our teeth healthy, when in fact plaque is easy to remove. Plaque is a soft deposit that sticks to the tooth’s surface and builds up over time. While it needs regular disruption, removal does not take a great deal of pressure.
Those most at risk for toothbrush abrasion are those who are meticulous at attending to their daily dental care. Other factors can be at play such as genetic predisposition to receding gums or clenching and grinding your teeth.
How It Affects Dental Health
Brushing too hard and too often can damage gums and cause them to recede while also wearing down tooth enamel. Receding gums can expose sensitive roots while enamel erosion removes the tooth’s natural protection. This can cause significant problems later on like periodontal disease and cavities that could require root canals, fillings, and even tooth extraction.
One of the signs of toothbrush abrasion is a small divot in the tooth just at the gumline. That divot can be sensitive, sometimes creating a shock sensation when exposed to cold or touched with the finger or toothbrush bristle.
Stopping toothbrush abrasion mostly involves a change in mindset about home dental care. You should approach brushing with the mindset that:
- You need to be thorough and gentle. Only use a soft-bristled toothbrush. The type of toothbrush is often indicated on the top of the packaging the toothbrush comes in.
- Brush your teeth in a soft circular motion as opposed to a back and forth ‘sawing’ motion across the teeth.
- Brushing is only meant to remove food and debris; therefore, it only takes light pressure. A trick to help you remember and to brush more lightly is to switch to brushing with your non-dominant hand.
If you have more questions, consult with Dental Partners of Boston, your premiere Boston dentists, about the severity of your toothbrush abrasion and a proper brushing technique to stop aggravating the problem. Contact us or schedule an appointment online.