I believe there is a common misconception out there – People think the harder they brush their teeth, the cleaner and healthier they will be. Or when it comes to deciding between a hard and a soft toothbrush, lots of people think a harder toothbrush must do a better job. In all fairness, I can see why they would think that. It makes sense that people would think they’re doing a good job by scrubbing their teeth as hard as possible when brushing; unfortunately, they may actually be causing more problems by doing so.
The fact is that when you brush too hard, not only are you removing unwanted food and plaque, but you also risk damaging the teeth and gums. Over a person’s lifetime, years of hard, aggressive tooth brushing will physically wear the enamel off of teeth. This can lead to sensitivity, discolouration, and cavities along the gum line. In addition, brushing too hard can cause or worsen any gum recession, which can negatively impact the supportive structures around the teeth. In severe cases, gum grafting may even be required to correct the damage.
So what should you do? First of all, (if you are a patient at our office, there is a good chance you’ve heard this before) switch to a soft or extra soft toothbrush. Even if you are a very gentle brusher, hard and even medium bristles are too abrasive. This goes for both manual and electric toothbrushes. Some electric toothbrushes now even have built in sensors that alert you to when you are pressing too hard.
How do you know if you’re brushing too hard? When you brush, the bristles of your toothbrush should bend very little. If you look at your toothbrush at home, you should see nice, straight bristles. Bristles that are bent in every which way are a good indicator that you’re brushing too hard.
Finally, you should be gentle, but thorough. Most people remember to brush the tops of their teeth, but often miss the area right along the gum line, where most of the plaque accumulates. When you brush along the gum line, place half the bristles on the teeth and the other half on the gums, move the toothbrush back and forth, and it should feel like the bristles are gently massaging the gums.
Soft bristles, along with regular care, are an important part of your oral health routine.
Happy tooth brushing!