I had always been pretty proud of the fact that I had never had a cavity. Six months ago at my cleaning appointment, though, my dentist found one. I had it filled, but I wasn’t happy. I have kids and my life has been a little crazy, so I think I was just not brushing as well as I used to. Now my wife is teasing me that I’m going overboard. She says I brush too much. I don’t think there is any such thing as brushing too much. Is there?
Ryan from California
Unfortunately, there definitely is such thing as brushing too much. There is also brushing incorrectly. At least there is no such thing as flossing too much.
One of the main reasons for brushing your teeth is to remove the soft plaque that builds up on them. Because it is soft, it doesn’t take a lot to remove it. When you overbrush your teeth, you remove the plaque, but once it’s gone, you also add extra abrasion to your teeth and gums.
What happens when you overbrush your teeth
When your teeth are exposed to that extra abrasion over a period of time, it can lead to problems. Your teeth may become sensitive because the enamel on the teeth gets worn down. When the enamel gets eroded, you can’t restore it. Your dentist can put crowns on your teeth, try to protect them with bonding, or even porcelain veneers, but the enamel itself won’t come back. Your gums can also get damaged. Overbrushing pushes the gums back and they recede. Unfortunately, the gums can’t come back, either. Sensitive teeth and receding gums are particularly a problem for people who already have a family history of gum problems or if they grind their teeth.
Overbrushing your teeth can happen if you are brushing more than three times a day and longer than two minutes each time you brush. It can also happen when you use a toothbrush with hard bristles or if you are brushing too hard.
Rather than brushing for a long period of time or aggressively, brush conscientiously. Think about each tooth as you brush. Learn the correct technique for brushing (yes, there is one). Make sure you are using a new soft-bristle brush. Old brushes, even with soft bristles, can be just as damaging as hard-bristled brushes.
And don’t forget to floss!
This post is sponsored by Generations Dental Care of Enfield, CT.