It’s one of those things where we think more effort means more success. We often think that over brushing our teeth leads to better results, the more vigorous our brushing means our teeth are getting thoroughly cleaned.
But there’s a problem with that because our teeth can only handle so much. Over brushing (could be forceful brushing, combined with the use of hard-bristled brush and excessively abrasive toothpaste) could result in loss of tooth enamel and cementum (covering on tooth roots). The mechanical forces can thin out the enamel and other tooth structures that are there to protect the integrity of our teeth in the first place.
If thinning of enamel and/or tooth root protection occurs, this could then lead to tooth sensitivity (nerve endings in the dentin layer become exposed) or gum recession (once gums recede they won’t come back to where they were originally). It could be a lifelong adjustment as the process is often irreversible.
Do you overbrush your teeth?
Old habits are hard to break especially if you’ve been doing vigorous and forceful brushing for many years. Good news is that you can still reduce the effects of over brushing by making changes to your brushing techniques. You can start with choosing a gentle brush (one with soft bristles). Even if you still brush hard, the effects can be reduced as a soft-bristled brush has less force.
Aside from using a gentle brush, it’s also important to choose a less abrasive toothpaste. The abrasiveness of toothpaste is a double-edged sword even though it helps with the removal of plaque and residues from the tooth surface, this abrasion may also affect the tooth enamel. After all, one reason toothpaste works is because there are abrasive elements and microparticles (e.g. calcium and aluminium compounds) that help remove residues and plaque build up. Those same abrasive elements also act on the tooth enamel and the effect gets aggravated with forceful brushing.
Earlier we mentioned that old habits are hard to break. Perhaps there is still one area that needs to change and that’s how fast we brush our teeth. Slowing the brushing and using improved brushing techniques can also aid in the prevention of overbrushing. Often, we are in a hurry because of work and other responsibilities most of us have a tendency to brush too quickly and forcefully. In addition, fast-paced living can make us ignore the dentist and our oral hygiene because after all, maintaining our teeth and gums (plus visiting the dental clinic) takes precious time. The truth though is it could get more time consuming, more expensive and more painful if we don’t visit the dentist and we neglect our oral health.
Much better than discipline
What can we do then? One of your best defences is to visit the dentist every six months. Aside from the professional cleaning, the dentist will be able to spot the problems early and prevent them from getting worse. You could avoid costly (e.g. tooth implant, root canal) and potentially painful procedures if the dentist can spot these issues and take action immediately.
Discipline is still important although a few misses will still likely occur. However, the most reliable strategy is to take the time to visit the dentist (ask if the clinic is open after work hours) to get a professional cleaning and proactive assessment. This way you protect your teeth and gums.