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Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Much?

Toothbrush with toothpaste in front of smiling woman

Generally speaking, brushing your teeth is a good idea. It prevents cavities and keeps your breath smelling fresh. 

But as with many healthy habits, you can overdo it. When you scrub your teeth too much, you can get what is known as toothbrush abrasion.

Regular brushing supports the health of your teeth in multiple ways. The mechanical action of the toothbrush removes plaque and debris while the fluoride it contains hardens the enamel, protecting it against bacterial acid. 

However, vigorous brushing can cause harm. Bristles can file down tooth enamel a bit like sandpaper, leading to receding gums and exposure of the sensitive root area. These issues can then lead to further problems, such as cavities, tooth infections and gum disease. 

The problem is more widespread than you might think. 10-20% of people have damaged their gums by brushing their teeth too hard and too often. What’s more, it is those who are most diligent about their oral hygiene who are most at risk. 

So What Can You Do to Prevent Over-Brushing?

Well, fortunately, it is mostly within your control.

Firstly, do not use medium- or hard-bristle brushes. These act a bit like sandpaper, wearing down your tooth enamel over time. 

Second, press your toothbrush against your teeth gently. You don’t need to force it into your teeth. In fact, this can make it work less effectively. 

Lastly, you can get better leverage by angling your toothbrush at 45 degrees relative to the gumline.

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