Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Hard or Too Much?


You can actually damage tooth enamel if you brush too hard, too often, or improperly. This is known as “tooth abrasion” and can result in overly sensitive teeth, receding gums, and ultimately, tooth pain.

Brushing Properly

Those who apply too much pressure to brushing or brush compulsively can end up wearing down the tooth enamel that protects the tooth. Once this enamel is gone, it exposes dentin, which makes up the core of the tooth. Since dentin is a bundle of nerve fibers, it will hurt when there is pressure on the tooth, and pain will also respond to extreme temperatures, just like a cavity.

But Doctor, I Brush Six Times a Day…

Yes, and you’re not alone. Dentists estimate that somewhere between 10% and 20% of the American population have damaged their tooth enamel from overbrushing. At particular risk are those who are obsessively diligent about their oral hygiene or those who have been scared into recently caring about their mouth health. These folks imagine that their teeth are coated in an invisible barrier of plaque that they must get off at all costs. In fact, overbrushing can cause all the same problems that not brushing at all causes, including tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum loss.

Plaque is Not As Sticky as You Think

Most people think of plaque as the most perfect form of epoxy, but in fact, it is quite soft and could be removed with a wet rag. The problem is that the surface of your teeth isn’t smooth which is why you need the brushes and a wet rag can’t go all of the places that a toothbrush can. That does not, however, mean that it requires Herculean exertion to remove the plaque.

In other words, brushing harder has no benefit. What’s more important is to brush thoroughly.

Brushing Properly Makes the Difference

Unfortunately, there is no school where we go to where we learn how to brush properly and it’s highly intuitive to think that brushing harder will produce better results. Nonetheless, dentists recommend the following to produce the best results:

  • You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging your gums and teeth.
  • The tips of the bristles should be placed at a 45-degree angle to your gums.
  • Short strokes over a small area are preferable to large strokes covering a large area.
  • If you’re squishing your bristles, you’re brushing too hard!

Remember, brushing too hard can be just as bad as not brushing at all!

Learn More About Proper Tooth Brushing

Peak Family Dental Care provides full-service dental services at all of our three locations in Arizona. If you’re experiencing tooth pain, gum bleeding, or other mouth problems, call us today to schedule an appointment and let us put you back on the path to having a healthy mouth!

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