Are you brushing your teeth too hard?

Are you brushing your teeth too hard?

Are you brushing your teeth too hard? Doing so can come back to bite you (pun intended).

I realize that in terms of “clean,” very little comes close to the time-honored tradition of using a little elbow grease. However, when dealing with the teeth and gums, it is not necessarily a good thing.

When you brush your teeth too hard and for too long, what you are essentially doing is removing layers of tooth enamel from the teeth themselves and gum material from around the teeth. This is quite assuredly, not a good thing. 

First of all, the gums help protect one of the most vulnerable parts of your tooth: the root. The teeth roots do not have the same protective layer as the top part of your teeth (the crown) and are therefore more sensitive and vulnerable to decay. 

When you are brushing your teeth hard and for too long, it winds up causing recession along the gum line. Some of you might think you don’t brush too hard. One thing to consider is, though you may feel you’re brushing softly, the area of force is concentrated on a very small surface. Even though you feel you are brushing softly, it may not be at the appropriate amount of pressure.

As far as the teeth themselves are concerned, brushing your teeth too hard has a similar effect. Namely, layers of the protective surface of the tooth can get worn down unnecessarily from doing so. The teeth will become more sensitive, you’ll have less protection from the acidity of food and bacteria and obviously, less enamel.

So what is the right way to brush your teeth and what is the recommended correct pressure?

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t be brushing your teeth for longer than two minutes at a time, or alternatively, less than that. After that amount of time, most of the bacteria, food particles and plaque that could come off with brushing, already has. 

Brushing your teeth beyond that two-minute mark is just not going to do much more. Make sure you floss as well, as the toothbrush is only going to be cleaning three of the surfaces of your teeth. You still have to clean in between the teeth.

The pressure that is recommended is on the order of, the pressure of a smaller sized orange at about 5.3 ounces or, to get specific, 150 grams. Unless you have some newfangled device that measures your brushing pressure, you probably won’t be able to accurately measure that you’re brushing at 150 grams. 

Some electric brushes will stop if too much pressure is applied, so you could use an electric brush if you find yourself brushing too hard. If you have any questions as to whether or not you are brushing too hard, you should come in to see the dentist. 

Either the dentist or hygienist can show you the ropes and instruct you on how often to brush, demonstrate proper technique for brushing your teeth and using floss and what approximate force to apply to the teeth when you are brushing.

About this Angie's List Expert: Jon Rochefort is the office manager at Minovi Dental, dental practice located in the heart of Washington, D.C. Minovi has been serving the DMV area for more than 20 years and is an active member of the Academy of General Dentistry. Follow this #ALExperts contributor on Twitter @Minovidental.

As of November 18, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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