Brush for two minutes, twice a day, with daily flossing. This routine is important for oral health! Some individuals keep to the program religiously, while others have difficulty forming the habit. Some unfortunately take it to the other extreme – brushing excessively. But is it really possible to brush your teeth too much?
Our mouths are a natural home to many different bacterial strains. It’s a constant act to resist the bacteria that are detrimental. At times, it’s tempting to tip the scales a bit, putting extra effort into getting rid of the “bad stuff.” That thinking often leads to brushing more than necessary.
The Long and Hard of Brushing
The act of brushing your teeth involves abrasion, the process of scraping or wearing something away. The bristles of your toothbrush scrape against your teeth and gums to remove food debris, plaque and bacteria. Most toothpastes include abrasive components to assist with this process. When used in moderation, this technique is effective at keeping your mouth relatively safe from decay and tooth loss.
Brushing for longer periods of time than two minutes takes abrasion beyond the thin film of plaque and bacteria, directly affecting the enamel of your teeth. Although tooth enamel is the strongest material in the human body, it is not indestructible. Excessive brushing wears away the enamel, making it too thin to protect the inner tooth properly. Overbrushing your teeth eventually leads to tooth sensitivity and gum recession. If the response to these problems is to brush even more, holes in the enamel are the next result.
Follow the Toothbrushing Recommendations
You can therefore see that there is a reason for the “two minutes, twice a day” toothbrushing recommendation. Dental authorities agree that such a routine is sufficient – it reasonably protects the teeth with the lowest risk of damage from abrasion. (While this usually means brushing morning and night, it is certainly acceptable to also brush after the lunch hour.) Another important recommendation is the type of bristles on your toothbrush. Groups like the American Dental Association (ADA) recommend a soft-bristled toothbrush, not medium or hard. Using soft bristles lower the risk of wear on your enamel while still providing enough abrasion to remove bacteria and plaque.
If you are brushing too hard, your toothbrush lets you know. If the bristles are flattened, frayed, or pushed outward at the edges only a few weeks after the first use, then too much force is being applied to the brush. Frayed bristles should appear no sooner than three months after first use.
Another consideration is your chosen toothpaste. As stated before, many toothpastes have abrasive agents added to them, especially those that promise to whiten your teeth. You can check the amount of abrasives in your toothpaste online. And while it can be difficult to find toothpastes without silica, the most common abrasive, they are available.
Get an Opinion on Your Enamel Health
If you are not certain about your brushing technique or you don’t believe what your toothbrush is telling you, please discuss the issue with the Yuba City Dentistry Group. We can take a look at your teeth and gums, take a look at your toothbrush, and then work with you to find a better brushing technique. Give us a call, or schedule an appointment online, and feel free to bring in your toothbrush for a “service call.” Too much of a good thing might lead to poor outcomes, but just the right amount will have you smiling for life!