When you go to brush your teeth, you’re actually brushing two different surfaces. Not only are you scrubbing the enamel of the teeth, which is the hardest substance in the human body; you’re also brushing gum tissue, which isn’t so tough. A good zealous brushing might seem like a smart way to keep your teeth clean, but in reality, overbrushing can lead to toothbrush abrasion, which can create any of the following problems.
When gums are overbrushed for a long period of time, they can begin to wear away, receding from the teeth and exposing more and more of the tooth. At first, this recession may expose a little “notch” at the top of the tooth where the enamel ends and the layer beneath the enamel, called dentin, is exposed. Because this exposed notch is not protected by enamel, it is more susceptible to collecting plaque and forming cavities. It’s also more sensitive and prone to pain. If receding gums progress to a more advanced stage, however, they can actually lose their grip on the root of the tooth and cause tooth loss. Unfortunately, even if overbrushing is corrected, receding gums don’t grow back—they can only be corrected with surgery.
While it’s not as easy to harm the enamel of your teeth as it is to harm the gums or dentin, it is possible. Overbrushing can wear away the enamel, leading to greater tooth sensitivity, greater risk of tooth decay, and discoloration. And while vigorous brushing and too-hard toothbrushes can certainly be to blame, research also suggests that overuse of toothpaste may lead to increased wear on enamel.
As the dentin layer below the enamel is exposed—both by receding gums and by worn enamel—teeth begin to take on a yellowed look. This is because, while enamel is white, the dentin beneath it is yellow. So while you may think you’re brightening your pearly whites by brushing them vigorously and often with whitening toothpaste, you may be doing just the opposite.
The good news is that being just a little more conscious of your brushing style can stop toothbrush abrasion. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush, brush lightly, and use a circular motion rather than a forceful horizontal scrubbing motion. And if you have concerns about abrasion, contact your Naperville dentists at Sherman Oaks Dental today.