Along with daily flossing and semi-annual dental appointments, brushing your teeth is an essential component of any oral hygiene routine. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush. However, some people brush their teeth more often or for longer durations. Can you brush your teeth too much? Is it possible to “overbrush” your teeth?
Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Much?
Although most dental health experts advise brushing your teeth twice a day, some people choose to brush their teeth more often. They might brush their teeth after every meal to clean away bacteria or after traveling to freshen their breath. Many people also brush their teeth before special occasions and potentially consequential events, such as job interviews, important meetings, first dates, and parties. Is this overkill? Can you brush your teeth too much?
First of all, brushing your teeth three times a day instead of two is not problematic. It’s also not a big deal to occasionally brush your teeth more than required in a single day. So if you’ve got a job interview mid-afternoon and a big date after dinner, go ahead and brush your teeth before those important events in addition to your typical morning/night routine. (Also, good luck to you! That sounds like a stressful day.)
Sure, brushing too often and for too long can be damaging, but for most people, the frequency and duration of brushing habits is not a great concern. If your dentist and dental hygienist say your mouth is healthy, don’t worry about it. However, it is important that you follow these three rules to avoid overbrushing and damaging your teeth:
Don’t brush your teeth after consuming acidic foods or beverages.
If your breath is pungent after a garlicky meal, go ahead and brush your teeth before that big date. However, if you’ve recently consumed acidic foods or beverages (such as coffee, fruit juice, citrus fruits, sour candy, sugar, wine, pickles, or tomato products), don’t brush right away. Acids can weaken tooth enamel, and if you brush your teeth right away, you’ll scrub the acid across your teeth and risk damaging the enamel. Instead, wait 20-30 minutes before brushing and drink some water to help neutralize the acid.
Brush your teeth gently using a soft-bristled brush and non-abrasive toothpaste.
Some people mistakenly assume that the harder you brush your teeth, the cleaner and healthier they’ll be. In reality, vigorous brushing isn’t necessary to remove plaque, which is soft and loose on the enamel. Instead of brushing your teeth with a lot of pressure, focus on brushing your teeth thoroughly and gently. Heavy-handed brushing can cause receding gums, expose the sensitive roots of your teeth, and lead to dental problems like periodontal disease and cavities. It can also wear down tooth enamel, which is like a shield that protects your teeth from decay. Overbrushing can destroy that shield and lead to sensitive, vulnerable teeth. In addition to not brushing forcibly, be sure that you choose a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste.
Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and oral examinations.
If you’re brushing your teeth too hard or too often, your dentist or dental hygienist will notice the symptoms. Receding gums, sensitive teeth, enamel loss, teeth darker near the gums, and a dull smile (less bright and white) are all signs that you’re overbrushing. If a dental professional spots these symptoms and advises you to be gentler with your teeth, listen up. And make sure that you visit your dentist semi-annually so that a dental expert can regularly examine your teeth and provide feedback on your oral health routine.
While it’s possible to brush your teeth too often or for too long, typically this isn’t an issue. However, brushing your teeth too forcibly is a problem for many people and often leads to enamel loss, sensitive teeth, and receding gums. Those most at risk of overbrushing are people who are very diligent about their oral care and people who use medium- or hard-bristled toothbrushes.
If you’re worried that you may be brushing too often or too forcibly, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for advice. They can also offer recommendations regarding toothbrushes and toothpaste.
And if you live near Springfield, Missouri, and you’re looking for a new dentist, contact Wilkinson Dental. Your comfort and oral health are our top priorities. If you’re ready to set up an appointment, please give us a call at 417-708-0556 or schedule one online. We look forward to hearing from you!