Brushing two or three times a day is vital for healthy gums and teeth. But dental professionals will also warn patients not to overdo it.
When it comes to brushing, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. The conditions of overbrushing are also known as tooth abrasion. And dentists estimate between 10 and 20 percent of the population suffer from the side effects of too much brushing. Often it happens to people with the best intentions of keeping their mouth clean and they have no idea they are doing it.
What is Overbrushing?
It is what happens to teeth after brushing too often, too long, or too aggressively. It can also stem from the use of inappropriate tools, like a hard bristle toothbrush or highly abrasive toothpaste. Overbrushing can lead to several dental problems that could be detrimental to the oral health or overall health of the patient.
What are the Side Effects of Tooth Abrasion?
When a patient over brushes the dentist will often notice damage to both the gums and teeth. Bleeding gums every time a patient brushes is something to watch for. It is a symptom indicative of the early stages of gum disease (gingivitis). It is also something the dentist will want to treat as soon as possible before it advances to periodontitis.
Gum recession is another sign of overbrushing, often exposing the lower portions of teeth (roots) meant to be protected by the soft tissue. This causes the teeth to appear longer than normal and exposes the sensitive portion of the tooth. Gum recession can be painful, especially if the patient already struggles with sensitive teeth. Continued overbrushing can cause the gumline to recede to the point that surgery is the only way to repair it. It can also lead to cavities on the roots of teeth.
Overbrushing is also damaging to the enamel. It breaks down the outer layer of the tooth that protects the underlying layers. This can lead to major dental sensitivity to both hot and cold. And once the enamel is worn away it does not come back. The dentist would propose bonding, veneers, or crowns depending on the extent of the damage.
What is the Proper Way to Brush Teeth?
It starts with the right tools. Dentists most often recommend patients use a soft bristle brush. Patients do not need to scrub hard to remove plaque. Being thorough is more important. So dentists recommend patients brush, using gentle circles, for two to three minutes. Moving the brush around at different angles and making sure to hit each surface of the teeth will help reach all areas of the mouth. There are also other ways to clean the mouth. Options include flossing, using a tongue scraper, drinking more water, chewing gum, and using mouthwash. Opting for one of these other methods throughout the day can keep the mouth feeling clean and prevent the risk of overbrushing.
If you have noticed some of the above symptoms, and are concerned about overbrushing, contact us to schedule an examination. Our dentist can look at your teeth and give you the best course of action to renew your oral health.