Dental Damage and Aggressive Tooth Brushing

By Ettienne Van Zyl on September 05, 2017

A toothbrush with toothpasteRegularly brushing the teeth is important for preventing dental damage and ensuring good oral health. While it may seem that using a hard-bristled toothbrush and heavy pressure would clean the teeth better than a light hand and soft-bristled toothbrush, it can actually do more harm than good. Aggressive tooth brushing can strip the teeth of enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay. Restorative dentistry treatments from Dr. Ettienne van Zyl can repair dental damage caused by aggressive brushing, restoring oral health and confidence.

To learn more about treatments for dental damage and aggressive tooth brushing, contact our Memphis, TN area practice. Before your appointment, find out how aggressive tooth brushing can impact the teeth as we take a closer look at aggressive tooth brushing and dental damage.

Aggressive Tooth Brushing and Dental Damage

Aggressive tooth brushing, also called over brushing, occurs when too much pressure is used to clean the teeth. It may also occur from using a medium or hard-bristled toothbrush or brushing compulsively. Aggressive tooth brushing can actually result in serious damage, including:

  • Enamel wear: The enamel is the hard, outer layer of the teeth that protects the inner structures, including dentin, nerves, and blood vessels, from bacteria and decay. Although the enamel is strong and durable, the friction and abrasion caused by aggressive brushing can wear away the enamel, exposing the inner structures of the teeth to decay and infection.
  • Gum recession: Over brushing can push back the gums, resulting in gum recession. Gum recession is a concern for dental health as it exposes portions of the teeth, such as the roots, to bacteria and acids, which increases the risk of tooth sensitivity and tooth decay.
  • Tooth decay: The risk of tooth decay is greatly increased with aggressive tooth brushing. This is because enamel erosion and gum recession may occur alone or together as a result of aggressive brushing. When enamel erosion and gum recession combine, tooth decay can happen rapidly. 
  • Increased tooth sensitivity: Aggressive tooth brushing can increase tooth sensitivity, making it painful to eat or drink hot or cold foods and drinks. Tooth sensitivity often increases with aggressive brushing as a result of enamel loss and gum recession.
  • Tooth loss: In severe circumstances, aggressive tooth brushing can lead to such severe tooth decay that tooth loss may occur on its own or a tooth may need to be extracted to restore oral health.

Signs of Aggressive Tooth Brushing and How to Protect Your Smile

So now that you understand the dangers of aggressive tooth brushing, you may be wondering how to tell if you're over brushing your teeth and what you can do to protect your smile.

One of the biggest signs of aggressive tooth brushing includes toothbrush bristles that are flattened and pushed back. Bristle firmness is another indicator of aggressive brushing. In most cases, bristles that are medium or hard will cause over brushing.

If you're bristles are pushed back, you use a hard-bristled toothbrush, or both, you may be aggressively brushing your teeth. If so, follow these tips to help prevent dental damage from aggressive brushing:

  • Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush to effectively remove plaque without damaging the enamel.
  • Use small, circular motions when brushing the teeth instead of sweeping your toothbrush back and forth across the teeth.
  • Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle when brushing to gently clean along the gum line and reduce the risk of gum recession.
  • Use light pressure when brushing the teeth.

Learn More about Protecting Oral Health

For more tips to protect your oral health, or to learn about treatment options, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. van Zyl.

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