Hopefully you’re following the golden rule of dental hygiene and brush your teeth two times a day. You know twice is the bare minimum, but is there such a thing as overdoing it?
The short answer is: yes, but maybe not in the way you think. As far as squeezing in an extra brushing session after lunch or before an important meeting, there is no such thing as brushing too often. However, overbrushing is possible if you’re using harsh tools and techniques every day on your sensitive enamel. In fact, you could be overbrushing even if you’re only doing it twice a day.
Worried you’re guilty of this common mistake? Read on to find out…
Bristle Quality Matters
Toothbrushes are designed to have smooth, rounded bristles. So when you first open the packaging, the newly minted nylon bristles are ready to provide effective yet gentle cleaning.
But with normal wear and tear, the bristle quality begins to degrade, making the edges highly abrasive and unsafe to use. After about 6 months, it’s time for a new toothbrush, though dentists recommend swapping it out earlier if you notice accelerated signs of damage.
If you continue to use an old, degraded toothbrush, even brushing just twice a day can be too much.
Toothbrush Firmness Matters Too
Some toothbrushes, even when brand new, are too stiff and intense for regular brushing. If you’re still using a “hard” or even “medium” bristled brush, your gums, dentin and enamel may be begging for something a little gentler.
When at the drugstore browsing through the many options, opt for a soft bristled brush and check to make sure the tips are rounded. You may be tempted to go for the firmer options, but rest assured the soft versions are just as good at their job, while also protecting your teeth!
When in doubt, ask your dentist for their recommendations.
Practice Good Technique
Brushing your teeth should not remind you of scrubbing the bathroom tile. Go easy on your teeth and don’t apply too much pressure!
A good rule of thumb is to think about brushing your teeth as “massaging” them rather than “scrubbing.” Start at your gum line and go up and down in small circular movements to massage the plaque and debris away. For the fronts of your teeth, hold your brush at a 45-degree angle. For your chewing surfaces, brush them directly. Don’t forget the backs either, using vertical strokes back and forth.
You may get the urge to brush your teeth after a meal. This is perfectly fine as long as you wait at least 30 minutes afterwards, especially after consuming acidic foods or beverages like coffee and citrus. If you brush your teeth too soon, you risk permanently damaging them as the acids alter your mouth’s pH balance and leave your teeth vulnerable. 30 minutes is enough time for the pH to return to normal.
As you can see, overbrushing isn’t about the quantity of times your brush, but the quality of the tools and techniques you use. So brush to your heart’s content, but remember not to overdo it!