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Brushing your teeth regularly is the cornerstone of oral hygiene, but can too much of a good thing be bad for you?
Dentists agree that the 2/2 rule is enough to keep your teeth healthy — brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, preferably before you start your day and before going to bed. Brushing three times isn’t bad, too, if you eat food that sticks between the teeth or leaves a strong aftertaste.
Anything more than that, however, can cause more harm than good. Our dental clinic in Townsville rarely receives cases of overbrushing; we’re more likely to treat people who don’t brush enough. Nevertheless, we believe that even brushing must be done in healthy moderation.
So, we’ll discuss the two ways overbrushing brings problems: one, frequent or overly vigorous brushing wears down the teeth’s protective barriers. Two, too much exposure to fluoride can discolour your pearly whites.
Brushing too many times can cause tooth abrasion, which is the gradual loss of enamel and cementum (the covering on the tooth roots) due to mechanical actions. You’re more prone to tooth abrasion if 1) you’re heavy-handed or brush your teeth too hard; 2) you brush more than necessary, and 3) your toothbrush has hard abrasive bristles. Aggressive movements, paired with abrasive bristles, gradually wear down the enamel.
Overly vigorous brushing also causes the gums to recede, exposing the cementum, which wears down along with the enamel.
Without the enamel and cementum, nothing would protect the softer layers of your teeth from bacteria, trauma, plaque build-up, acidic food, and other harmful substances. Your teeth will be extremely vulnerable to decay and tooth loss. Moreover, your teeth will become more sensitive to hot and cold food.
Frequent brushing means you receive higher than average exposure to fluoride. For adults, this isn’t an issue, but children’s teeth respond differently.
In some cases, too much fluoride leads to fluorosis, a cosmetic issue that causes discolouration or mottling of the permanent teeth. Spots, streaks, or pits appear on the surface of your pearly whites, and the damage is often irreversible.
It’s prevalent among kids younger than eight years old because their permanent teeth are still developing. Common culprits include swallowing products with fluoride, like toothpaste and mouth rinses. It follows, therefore, that overbrushing makes your children more vulnerable to permanent cosmetic dental issues.
How do you know if you’re overdoing your dental hygiene? Here are the common symptoms of overbrushing:
If you face these symptoms, feel free to schedule an appointment at our dental clinic. We’ll check if your teeth — enamel, gums, and all — are in good shape. We’ll also teach you the proper brushing techniques to keep you and your children’s pearly whites healthy.