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Can Brushing My Teeth Too Hard Damage My Gums?

July 14, 2010 in Dental Hygiene,Dentistry by McCarl Dental Group

The health of your gums is intricately connected to the health of your teeth. We use the phrase, “brush your teeth,” but that really means “brush your teeth and the crevices of your gums.”

One of the most common causes of gum problems is insufficient flossing. If you do not floss your teeth, you never fully clean between your teeth. With time, lack of flossing leads to bleeding gums and sometimes more severe problems like advanced gum disease and loss of teeth. Gum neglect is one extreme of the spectrum.

The other extreme is when you brush your gums really hard. In this situation, gums actually start to recede up and away from their teeth. Receding gums leave sensitive parts of the tooth exposed and can lead to discomfort and later infection.

A misconception about dental care is that you need to brush really hard. This is not true. In fact, it’s often better for your gums and teeth if you use a soft brush and gentle touch. The plaque and bacteria that build up on your teeth are removed more effectively with a soft, gentle scrub. If you brush too hard, you are risking gum recession and you are not cleaning your teeth as efficiently as you could be.

Here are a few tips if you are a “gum scrubber” who tends to brush too hard:
•  Lighten up! The first step is to admit that you brush too hard. Practice brushing with a gentle touch.  You can also ask your spouse or a family member to watch you brush and remind you if you start brushing too hard.
•  Find a new angle. Reduce the force of the brush against your gums and make sure that your toothbrush bristles touch your gums at a 45-degree angle.
•  Power up with an electric toothbrush. If you just can’t seem to brush more softly, get a machine to do it for you! Purchase a battery-powered toothbrush, like a Philips Sonicare or OralB electric  toothbrush. Your McCarl dentists and dental hygienists are happy to make a recommendation based on your brushing preferences. Electric toothbrushes give your teeth and gums a steady, consistent and gentle scrubbing, just like the professional teeth cleaning at your dentist’s office.
•  Try Disclosing tablets. Disclosing tablets are chewable pills or liquid that stains the plaque red.  Then you simply brush and floss until the red is gone. You do not need to brush longer or harder than it takes to get the red off your teeth.
•  Soothe your sensitive teeth with special toothpaste. If you have receding gums caused by excessive brushing, your dentist can prescribe an analgesic toothpaste with special ingredients to reduce discomfort and promote healthier gums.  You may also try Sensodyne or Colgate Pro Health toothpaste.

You can usually repair the harm that has been done to your gums from the pressure of excessive brushing or lack of flossing. At the very least, you can prevent receding gums from getting worse. Ask your dentist at McCarl Dental Group for advice – that’s why we’re here!

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8601 Veterans Hwy, Suite 101, Millersville, MD 21108 USA
Dr. Clayton McCarl, Jr. Millersville, MD cosmetic, restorative, & preventive dentistry.
28 Ridge Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770 USA
Dr. Clayton McCarl, Jr. Greenbelt, MD cosmetic, restorative, & preventive dentistry. (301) 474-4144