Make Sure You’re Not Brushing Your Gums Away
When it comes to dental health, “brush your teeth” is a mantra we’ve all heard for our entire lives. In fact, it’s been drilled into our heads so consistently that we’ve developed a new problem: Overbrushing.
What is Overbrushing?
It is, of course, very important to brush your teeth thoroughly to clean off plaque and prevent the formation of tartar (and, in turn, cavities). However, many people interpret the word “thoroughly” as “aggressively,” and this can result in damage to your teeth and gums.
Plaque itself is very soft. Think of it less like those hard mineral deposits on your faucet and more like a fresh smudge of ketchup or mustard on your kitchen counter. It doesn’t take a lot of force to remove it; instead, your toothbrush should buff away plaque gently, so the teeth and gums underneath remain safe.
Your tooth enamel is strong, but it’s also thin: About as thin as an eggshell. Overbrushing consistently can wear down enamel, ultimately making your teeth more prone to decay. And your gums, whose job it is to protect the sensitive roots of your teeth from the bacteria in the mouth, are even more fragile. Overbrushing can lead to gum recession, which can make your teeth feel uncomfortably sensitive and can even lead to bone loss.
Worst of all, overbrushing is a little like using a chainsaw to cut a toothpick — you may be missing the plaque entirely. That means you’re doing damage to your teeth and gums and leaving bacteria in place to grow into cavities.
How to Stop Overbrushing
If you think you might be overbrushing, here are some changes you can make to your routine to try and kick the habit.
- Change your toothbrush. A classic nylon toothbrush has the potential to do a lot of damage to your teeth and gums if misused. Plus, their bristles are often too stiff to be capable of the kind of gentle brushing you should be doing. Instead, look for the toothbrushes marketed as “soft” or “ultra soft,” and consider picking up a toothbrush with natural fibers instead of nylon.
- Don’t rush. Most of us see tooth brushing as a necessary evil, which means we often rush through it so we can get on to the next thing, be that leaving for work or getting into bed. But when you rush the process, you can’t pay attention to where and how you’re brushing. If you take your time, you can focus on doing it right.
- Make sure to floss. Many people overbrush when trying to get at plaque that the toothbrush just can’t reach. No toothbrush can get all the way in between your teeth or below the gum line to reach the plaque that builds up there. Only floss can do that job — so make sure you’re not skipping it!
Need a brush-up course on toothbrushing? We’d be happy to walk you through the basics again at your next check up.