Daily brushing is certainly crucial for optimal oral health. But did you know it is actually possible to brush your teeth too hard? While aggressive brushing is better than no brushing at all, it can cause a variety of other harmful dental issues.
At 38th Street Dental in Austin, TX, we provide treatments in restorative dentistry to help address problems caused by hard brushing. Here, we explore dental damage and aggressive tooth brushing, and how to modify your hygiene regimen for optimal oral health.
How Do I Know if I Am Brushing Too Aggressively?
Aggressive brushing is categorized as using too much pressure. If you notice that your toothbrush bristles are splayed out or misshapen, it is a good indication you are applying too much force. Additionally, you should avoid using a medium- or hard-bristled toothbrush. Though these brushes can be found in stores, it is important to always choose a soft-bristled option. Soft toothbrushes effectively clean plaque and tartar from the teeth without causing dental damage.
Aggressive Brushing Causes Enamel Erosion
Dental enamel is the hard, outer surface of the tooth that protects the internal layers from damage and bacteria. Consistent aggressive brushing can wear down the enamel, making the softer layers more vulnerable.
Patients who have experienced significant tooth erosion can benefit from certain restorative options. For example, a simple dental bonding procedure can protect the inner layers of a tooth. To address more severe cases, a dental crown or veneer can be placed to strengthen and reinforce the tooth structure.
Aggressive Brushing Causes Gum Recession
Brushing too hard can cause erosion of the gum tissue as well. Over time, the gums will recede, exposing the roots of the teeth. Since the tooth roots are not protected by enamel, they are more susceptible to root decay once gum recession occurs.
Aggressive brushing is not the only reason people develop gum recession, but it is a common factor. In some cases, the exposed area of the roots can be covered with a composite resin material. This will protect the vulnerable areas from further damage. In severe cases, gum graft surgery may be necessary to fully correct the issue.
Aggressive Brushing Increases Your Risk of Tooth Decay
Because aggressive brushing erodes the enamel that protects your tooth, the underlying layers are more prone to bacteria. The increase in bacteria makes your teeth immediately more vulnerable to cavities.
If tooth decay is diagnosed in the early stages, you may be able to remedy the situation with a dental filling, inlay, or onlay. If the decay is more extensive, a dental crown can be placed to reinforce the entire tooth structure.
Aggressive Brushing Can Lead to Sensitive Teeth
Enamel erosion can also lead to excessive tooth sensitivity. Without the protective layer of enamel, the nerves within the tooth are exposed to temperature fluctuations.
Various treatments in restorative dentistry can address the problem, and specific treatment will depend on the severity of the issue. Sensitivity can also be managed with regular use of desensitizing toothpaste.
Tips for Developing Healthy Brushing Habits
By making a few minor changes, you can develop healthier brushing habits and prevent further damage from occurring. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
- Alter Your Stroke: Rather than brushing back and forth, try using small, circular strokes.
- The 45-degree Rule: By angling your toothbrush into the gum line at a 45-degree angle, you will effectively clean the teeth and gums without causing damage.
- Apply Less Pressure: If you notice you are heavy-handed when brushing, try lightening up on the pressure. By changing your technique, you can still clean your teeth effectively without brushing hard.
- Buy a Soft Toothbrush: Be sure you make the switch to a soft toothbrush if you are currently using a medium- or hard-bristled brush. Some patients prefer an electric toothbrush, but a manual toothbrush can still offer exceptional results.
Contact Us to Learn More
If you notice signs of tooth or gum erosion, or if you are experiencing extreme sensitivity, schedule a consultation with one of our doctors. You can contact us online anytime, or call us at (512) 458-6222.