Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Much?

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Can you brush your teeth too much – is that even possible?

It may come as a surprise to you, but when it comes to toothbrushing, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. In this article, we will be delving into explaining why this is.

The serious effects of overbrushing

If you are dedicated to your oral health and hygiene, it can be very tempting to start brushing your teeth after every meal. 

However, it makes much more sense to shift your focus to improving your toothbrushing technique instead of simply adding more toothbrushing to your daily list of tasks. Most likely, there are several things you can do to improve your toothbrushing technique or the tools you use to brush your teeth with. 

Overbrushing can cause receding gums and periodontal disease

One of the things that can happen if you consistently brush your teeth too often is that the gum tissue can become damaged, leading it to recede. Tooth roots can be exposed as a result of the gums receding, which puts you at risks of developing not only decay but also periodontal disease.

Those who use hard-bristled and medium-bristled toothbrushes are at the most risk for gum recession and tooth damage, if they over brush regularly. A few signs of overbrushing include: 

  • Splayed bristles
  • Bleeding gums
  • Red gums or bleeding gums after brushing
  • Gum recession

Overbrushing wears down the tooth enamel

Tooth enamel is the most hard-wearing material in the human body, and yet repetitive teeth brushing, particularly with stiff bristles, can slowly wear the enamel thin.

It follows that if you are brushing your teeth multiple times a day, even when it is not necessary, you will wear down your enamel much quicker. This is why one of the very first signs of overbrushing is sensitive teeth.

Worn enamel can lead to tooth decay

Sensitive teeth is only the beginning if you keep on overbrushing your teeth month after month and year after year.

The enamel is what protects your teeth from tooth infections and decay. Without a sufficient layer of enamel, your teeth become much more susceptible to developing cavities. 

How to brush your teeth optimally

Instead of brushing your teeth after every meal, there is something much more effective you can do instead. Instead of the quantity of your toothbrushing, focus on the quality instead.

Use a soft-bristled electric toothbrush

If your teeth are feeling sensitive and are prone to cavities, the toothbrush you are using may be part of the problem.

In other words, if you are currently using a hard-bristled toothbrush, you can get a quick win by switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush instead, as hard-bristled toothbrushes are notoriously tough on the outer layer of enamel.

Electric toothbrushes are also much better than manual toothbrushes – they provide a much more thorough clean and are less likely to leave abrasions due to the small circular motions they make.

Use the correct brushing technique

Speaking of small circular motions, using the proper technique when brushing your teeth can have a tremendous impact, not only on how well you manage to clean your teeth, but also on whether or not you are wearing down the enamel in the process.

Brushing hard and using back-and-forth movements is abrasive on the teeth, even if you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush. The best way to brush your teeth is to move the brush over your teeth in small circular motions while applying gentle pressure.

Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash

Fluoride is a godsend when it comes to maintaining oral health. Not only does fluoride help prevent tartar buildup, it also strengthens the enamel. 

Because of this, you should always use a fluoridated toothpaste followed by fluoridated mouthwash.

Always floss

Always remember to floss! 

Whenever you eat, small food particles will get stuck between your teeth and between your teeth and gums. In addition to this, plaque will inevitably build up throughout the day, and brushing your teeth is not enough to get rid of all of it. 

Frequently asked questions about brushing your teeth too much

Is brushing my teeth 4 times a day too much?

There is no hard and fast rule about how many times a day you can brush your teeth. 

Having said that, the American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth only twice a day for two minutes each time. This recommendation should provided you with a good frame of reference as to how often you should be brushing your teeth.

Is brushing teeth 3 times too much?

Brushing your teeth three times a day is unlikely to cause toothbrush abrasion or significantly wear down your enamel.

However, if you work on developing the proper brushing technique and are using the best toothbrushing implements, brushing three times a day really isn’t necessary. 

Can I brush my teeth as many times as I want?

No.

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you brush your teeth too often you may actually end up damaging both your teeth and your gums.

Brushing multiple times a day can lead to receding gums, abrasions and tooth sensitivity because the enamel becomes worn. Ultimately, over-brushing can lead to tooth decay as a result of wearing down your enamel by brushing too hard or too frequently.

Conclusion

When it comes to your oral hygiene routine, you should always focus on quality over quantity. 

According to the American Dental Association, brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time is sufficient if you want to maintain healthy teeth, so instead of brushing your teeth many times throughout the day, look at how you can perfect a good brushing technique and use the best tools available to remove plaque. 

Always brush your teeth gently using a soft-bristled electric toothbrush, as opposed to one of the manual, hard-bristled variety. Using dental floss as well as fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash are also important. Making certain changes to your diet, such as eating fewer acidic foods, is also worth considering when the end goal is a beautiful and healthy smile.

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.