Everybody understands that proper dental hygiene starts with brushing our teeth frequently, flossing often, drinking a lot of water, and maintaining a well-balanced diet. Many dental professionals advise brushing two times a day for a minimum of two minutes. What many people don’t think about, however, is the amount of pressure they are applying to their teeth while doing their brushing.
Toothbrush abrasion occurs when the user is applying excessive pressure while brushing, normally with hard- or medium- bristled toothbrushes. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 20% of adults have caused damage to their teeth (and gums) due to the fact that they brush too strongly. The outer surface of the tooth is called enamel, and it is the most durable part of the human body—even stronger than our bones. Over-brushing wears down this external defensive layer, which is likely to make us more vulnerable to cavities and bacteria. Additionally, brushing too frequently and utilizing too much force can result in receding gums. Receding gums frequently results in exposed roots, sensitive teeth, and potentially early tooth loss.
Kevin Sheu, DDS of Delta Dental says “Plaque is so soft that you could remove it with a rag if you could reach all the surfaces where it hides.” He also explains that brushing harder or more often isn’t going to make a huge difference. “Thoroughness is what is required for plaque removal, not aggressive brushing.”
Below are a few helpful points to remember when brushing in order to prevent tooth abrasion:
– When brushing, keep your toothbrush head at a 45-degree angle to your gumline.
– Instead of going back and forth, use short strokes and a scrubbing motion.
– Use a soft-bristled brush rather than a hard-bristled one.
– Use your non-dominant hand to help you avoid using excessive pressure.