Learn About Tooth Abrasion and Overbrushing

Recently, the issue of over brushing and its direct link to tooth abrasion has been a topic in many journal and news articles. A story in The Wall Street Journal (dated February 4, 2000) stated that in many cases, "the culprit in toothbrush abrasion is the toothbrush itself." This issue is particularly important because people can damage healthy teeth and gums by brushing too hard, oftentimes with a medium- or hard-bristled toothbrush. In fact, dentists and representatives of the American Dental Association have recommended for years that people use a soft-bristled toothbrush for their dental care.

Our teeth and gums are susceptible to wear and tear like all other parts of our bodies. In cases of improper brushing, such as brushing too vigorously, gum tissue can be worn away. Receding gums then lead to other significant dental problems such as sensitive teeth, periodontal disease, cavities, root canals, and potentially removal of teeth.

Solutions to brushing too hard and causing tooth abrasion include adjusting the angle of your toothbrush (it should be at a 45-degree angle), lessening the amount of pressure you use, monitoring the length of time, as well as making sure that you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush. In addition, always ask your dentist for specific recommendations related to your oral health care.

While the potential harm to teeth and gums through over brushing is significant, an even greater percentage of the population suffers damage to their teeth from occlusion (bad bite), genetic factors, and poor overall dental hygiene. It is critical to carefully maintain and monitor your oral health. The best approach to maintaining good oral health is to brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent tooth abrasion with fluoride toothpaste, floss or clean between the teeth using an interdental cleaner (special brushes, picks or sticks), and visit your dentist every six months. Follow your dentist's advice with regard to any changes to this regimen.

By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO

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