Excessive use of a toothbrush. Is toothbrushing damaging your teeth?
Can a toothbrush be dangerous? Surely not…
Sadly, it’s true, sometimes we tell patients that toothbrushing is damaging their teeth. Does that mean stopping brushing – NO!!! We would never tell a patient to not brush their teeth!!!
It’s all in the toothbrush technique.
Brushing your teeth incorrectly or improper use of a toothbrush can damage your teeth. Imagine washing your car with a wire brush – it wouldn’t do the paintwork much good would it? In the same way, if you brush with a hard-bristled brush, overtime you can wear away the protective coating of your teeth. Therefore, its important to use a soft bristled brush, or, even better, an electric toothbrush with a warning light that tells you if you are pressing too hard.
It’s not just your toothbrush!
Toothbrushing alone doesn’t wear away your teeth but works in conjunction with other forces. Acid on your teeth from food and drink, or intrinsically produced acid (i.e. heartburn) will cause the enamel to weaken and be more prone to loss when brushed. Similarly, excessive tooth grinding, or clenching can cause the teeth to weaken at the gum margins and this is again prone to damage by the toothbrush.
What damage is caused?
Commonly, we see notches at the necks of the teeth (in the area where the teeth meet the gum). These almost look like the notch cut by a lumberjack’s axe when cutting down a tree!
What are the symptoms of toothbrush damage?
Initially, you may not experience any symptoms, but as the tooth wear gets closer to the nerve, you can begin to experience sensitive teeth or even toothache.
Getting long in the tooth…
We’ve all heard that phrase. It doesn’t mean that the teeth are growing, but actually that the gums are receding or shrinking back, thus, making the teeth appear longer.
How can I prevent tooth wear and tooth recession?
1. Use an electric toothbrush with a pressure indicator
2. Hold the electric toothbrush with your forefinger and thumb, not in the palm of your hand. Therefore, the lack of power will prevent you from putting excessive forces on the toothbrush
3. Use floss and tepes to get in between the teeth to clean the surfaces that the teeth miss.
4. Never brush your teeth immediately after having something to eat or drink that is acidic in nature. That includes juices, fruits, fizzy drinks etc…
5. If you find yourself clenching your teeth or grinding your teeth, mention this to your dentist. As a result, your dentist may provide specialised treatment to resolve this.
6. See your dentist regularly for check-ups!
7. Visit the dental hygienist for professional teeth cleaning.