Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Hard?

Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Hard?

Is it possible to brush your teeth too hard? A dentist weighs in.

Brushing your teeth is one of the easiest ways to keep your dental health in tip-top shape. Brushing twice a day, choosing a good toothbrush, and remembering to visit your dentist are all part of an oral routine that can set you up for success. But is it possible that something as simple as brushing can be done incorrectly? Is it possible to brush too hard?

“Absolutely,” says Dr. Kami Hoss, founder of The Super Dentists. “We unfortunately see damage on teeth and/or gums from brushing too hard, or with the wrong toothbrush, bristles, or techniques, every day at our practice when new patients come to see us.”

Damage Caused By Brushing Too Hard

Brushing too hard and using a toothbrush with stiff, coarse bristles can wear down and damage both the teeth and gums, creating a host of issues, such as gum recession and enamel wear, both of which are linked to tooth sensitivity. According to Hoss, factors beyond brushing that may contribute to tooth sensitivity are a high-sugar diet and the usage of at-home teeth whitening kits.

Dr. Hoss explains that some people may brush too hard in an effort to “get rid of” all the bacteria that may be found in the mouth.

“One of the misconceptions behind brushing is that we are trying to ‘kill’ all the bacteria in our mouths,” says Dr. Hoss. “As a reference point, we have around seven billion microbes in our mouths — almost the same number of people on this planet. There is no way we can, or even should, kill all the microbes. Most of our oral microbiome, which is the collection of microbes and their genetic material, is actually beneficial and even crucial to our survival. By brushing, we should just try to keep plaque — the sticky material that microbes use to attach to teeth — thin.”

How To Brush Correctly

So, what is the best way to go about brushing? “Gently, but thoroughly,” says Dr. Hoss. “Of course, the dentist should be consulted for individual needs, but in general, we recommend using a soft toothbrush, putting the brush at a 45-degree angle so half of it is on the gums and half of it is on the teeth, and then wiggling the brush in small circles, sweeping away from each tooth. The front, back, and top of each tooth, and tongue, all needs to be brushed every time — brushing twice a day is ideal.”

Whether it’s related to brushing too hard or caused by other factors, if you’ve got tooth sensitivity (and in the US, as many as 4 in 10 people do), try Sensodyne Rapid Relief Toothpaste. It has a unique formulation with stannous fluoride that quickly creates a protective barrier over the sensitive areas of the teeth. When used twice daily, Sensodyne Rapid Relief provides clinically significant sensitivity relief in just three days.