Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Much?

October 3, 2019

toothbrush with brand new bristlesWe’ve all heard that we need to brush our teeth twice a day. But what if we want to brush more? What if we just can’t get enough?

In all seriousness, sometimes your mouth just may feel a little less than fresh. Or maybe you ate something sugary and you, being conscious about your oral health, want to clean your teeth.

The good news is, you can brush as often as you want! But that isn’t the whole story. It isn’t about how often you brush, but it’s more about the way you brush. In fact, even if you only brush twice a day, you can damage your teeth if you aren’t using the proper techniques. Using the wrong tools or being too rough can result in damage to your gum tissue and enamel.

Check Your Toothbrush’s Bristles

toothbrush with old fraying bristles

These bristles are frayed, and this brush should be replaced.

Next time you grab your brush from the bathroom cabinet, take a look at the bristles. They should be rounded at the ends with no sign of fraying. New bristles are perfectly smooth nylon cylinders, which helps them be gentle on your teeth and gums.

As you use your brush, the bristles will start to wear down and look jagged. Once your bristles start to wear, it’s time for a new brush. Your dentist will give you a new one at your 6-month checkup, but often, you’ll need a replacement before then.

Not All Brushes Are the Same

It’s important to monitor the wear on your bristles, and it’s also important to choose the proper brush from the start.

When you choose your toothbrush from the drugstore, the first thing you’ll notice is that there is no shortage of options! Here’s one thing that may help you narrow it down: medium and hard bristles are out. You want a soft-bristle brush. You may think scrubbing with firmer bristles will better clean your mouth, but soft bristles do the job just fine, and without causing damage.

Refine Your Technique

Now that you have the right tools and are keeping an eye on your bristles, let’s take a look at the actual process of brushing. This is the most important part!

Many patients simply use too much pressure. You’re cleaning your teeth, not scrubbing your bathroom tile. As a matter of fact, we encourage our patients to think about “massaging” their teeth, rather than brushing or scrubbing.

  • On your gum line and front of your teeth: Use small, circular motions with your brush at a 45-degree angle
  • On the backs of your teeth: use vertical, up and down strokes
  • On the chewing surfaces: place the brush directly on your chewing surfaces, and massage in circular motions

Make sure you wait at least 60 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. This gives the PH balance in your mouth time to return to normal. If your PH is at an acidic level, that can temporarily soften your enamel.

So, in summary, don’t worry about brushing too much! Instead, just focus on honing your brushing technique and taking care to replace worn toothbrushes.