Brushing your teeth no less than twice a day is non-negotiable. But what about throwing in an extra brushing session, like before a job interview or after a particularly sugary meal? Is there such a thing as brushing too many times in one day?
Many of our patients are curious about this. Luckily, if you’re using the correct tools and technique, there is no such thing as brushing your teeth too often. However, overbrushing is possible if you are too aggressive to your teeth or you use harsh bristles.
Worried you might be guilty of this? Keep reading to find out if you’ve been unintentionally damaging your dentin and enamel even if you dutifully brush twice a day.
Check Your Toothbrush’s Bristle Quality
If you’ve had the same toothbrush for months on end, chances are you’re causing unnecessary stress to your teeth. When a toothbrush is brand new, the bristles are still gently rounded the way they were designed. They offer the perfect amount of pressure without being too abrasive.
But with regular use, the smooth nylon corners begin to break down, creating jagged edges that act as tiny knives against your teeth. After about 6 months, sometimes sooner, they are no longer safe to use. This is why dentists recommend replacing your brush at this time.
Using damaged bristles can count as overbrushing, even if you’re only brushing the standard two times a day.
Pick the Right Toothbrush
As you now know, broken down bristles can do a number on your teeth. But you have to be careful even with certain new brushes too! Not all toothbrushes are created equal, and many on the market are unfortunately too harsh, even straight out of the packaging.
When you’re browsing through the shelves at the drugstore, make sure you choose a brush with soft bristles. You may be tempted to go for medium or hard, but these are unnecessarily stiff for the task at hand. You will get just as good of a clean, minus the irritation, with a soft-bristled brush.
If you still need some guidance, feel free to ask your dentist for their recommendations.
Use the Right Technique
When it comes down to it, you can have the ideal, brand new, soft-bristled brush but it won’t cancel out the damage you may be causing your teeth if you treat brushing them the same as scrubbing grout on your bathroom tile.
In fact, get rid of the word “scrubbing” and replace it with “massaging” when it comes to your teeth. Use small circular motions to massage the plaque and debris away while holding your brush at the correct angle depending on the area: 45 degrees for your front teeth and directly for your molars. Don’t forget the backs of your teeth either! For a more in-depth proper lesson, check out our How to Brush Your Teeth article.
Also remember to wait at least 30 minutes after you’ve eaten to brush. This is especially relevant if you’ve consumed something acidic like coffee or citrus. Eating and drinking changes the pH balance in your mouth and can make your teeth more vulnerable to the acids present in the food or beverage. Waiting until the pH returns to normal after 30 minutes will protect your enamel from permanent damage.
Now that you know what overbrushing really means, you can stop worrying about the quantity of times you brush and start thinking about the quality of the tools and techniques you use!