Dental Tips Blog


The Damage is Real: Stiff Bristled Toothbrushes

The harder you scrub your teeth, the cleaner they are. Right? Perhaps so, but scrubbing aggressively, especially with a medium or stiff bristled toothbrush, can actually scrub your tooth enamel away. Toothbrush abrasion usually starts out as mild gum recession, where the irritated gum tissue creeps up the surface of the tooth, exposing small areas of the root. Most people with gum recession experience tooth sensitivity, but people who scrub very hard tend to not have this symptom because the delicate nervous tissue is trying to pull away from the irritation.  Gum grafting may be needed to treat severe gum recision.

Over time, people who brush aggressively begin to wear a small triangular notch in the tooth enamel, just along the gums. This starts very mildly, but in extreme cases the notch can be worn almost halfway through the tooth. At this point you can usually see the inside layer, called dentin, which is darker or more yellow in appearance than the enamel. Placing tooth colored bonding material over the area to prevent sensitivity, decay, and improve the appearance of your smile is usually the preferred treatment method for severe abrasion.

Because tooth enamel does not grow back, it is essential to avoid abrasion in the first place. Using a soft bristled brush, only apply as much pressure is needed to cause a gentle blanching of the tissues. Too much pressure, even with a soft brush, can cause damage. It may not feel like you’re getting your teeth clean with a soft toothbrush, but you are. Scrubbing can be a very difficult habit to break. If you have a hard time, you may want to consider in a high quality electric toothbrush that can simply be held in place and allowed to do all of the cleaning on its own, with no pressure whatsoever.

Posted on behalf of North Point Periodontics


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