Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Often?

October 22, 2018

You know you’re supposed to brush no less than twice a day. But what about brushing more? Maybe you want to squeeze in a quick brush after lunch or a particularly sugary meal, but aren’t sure if you should.

Luckily, if you take care to brush correctly, there’s no such thing as brushing too often. However, overbrushing—a.k.a. brushing too aggressively—can definitely harm your teeth, even if you only do it once or twice a day.

It all lies in your technique and tools used. Overly vigorous brushing or using the wrong toothbrush can irritate your gums and wear away at your dentin and enamel over time.

Check Your Toothbrush’s Bristles

ToothbrushesA brand new toothbrush’s bristles are still rounded and wear-free right out of the package. They are designed to be perfectly smooth nylon cylinders with no rough edges, making them gentle and non-abrasive.

However, as you continue to use your toothbrush, the smooth corners begin to wear down into jagged edges. There becomes a point when they are no longer safe to use on your teeth. Usually this point shows up around the 6 month mark, which is when dentists typically recommend replacing them. But you should do it sooner if you notice excessive signs of wear.

Even brushing just twice a day with damaged bristles can count as overbrushing.

Not All Brushes Are the Same

If using worn down bristles can harm your mouth, it follows that using a new yet already harsh toothbrush isn’t any better. Remember, your gums, dentin and enamel all are vulnerable to damage if you use the wrong tools. And unfortunately, some of the toothbrushes available aren’t always designed with that in mind.

You will see many different bristle options on the shelves at the drugstore, with firmness levels ranging from soft, medium and hard. Even though you may logically assume the stiffer bristles will provide a better clean, opt for the soft ones instead. These will still do the job while also protecting your mouth.

If you’re overwhelmed by all the choices, your dentist will be more than happy to offer their recommendations.

It’s All About the Technique

The right bristles won’t do you any good if you treat brushing your teeth the same as scrubbing grout in your bathroom! Many of us place far too much pressure on our teeth when it’s not at all necessary.

In fact, you shouldn’t even be thinking about “brushing” or “scrubbing” your teeth as much as you should consider it “massaging” them. Use small, circular motions starting at the gum line, holding your brush at a 45-degree angle for the front of your teeth and a direct angle where you chew. For the backs of your teeth, use vertical strokes going back and forth.

You can brush your teeth after you eat, but it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes first, especially if you just consumed something acidic like coffee or citrus. Acids alter the PH balance in your mouth and can temporarily weaken your enamel. If you brush your teeth at this time, it can cause permanent damage.

As you can see, it’s not so much about how many times you brush as much as it’s about how you brush. So brush your teeth to your heart’s content—just keep in mind not to overdo it!