Brushing with a heavy hand or hard-bristled toothbrush may seem like these practices would get the teeth as clean as possible, but the truth of the matter is aggressive brushing can actually be quite harmful to dental health. Fortunately, restorative dentistry treatments from the Boston Prosthodontics Dental Group can help repair the damage caused by aggressive brushing and restore dental health. Although treatments are available, preventing damage before it occurs is optimal for oral health. Learn how to protect your smile as we discuss dental damage and aggressive tooth brushing in this overview from our Boston, MA team of dentists.
What Is Aggressive Tooth Brushing?
Aggressive tooth brushing, sometimes called over-brushing, describes brushing with too much pressure, using a hard-bristled toothbrush, or both. Aggressive tooth brushing poses the greatest risk to those who brush two or more times a day and may be recognized by looking at the state of your toothbrush. If your toothbrush’s bristles are flattened and pushed back, you may be aggressively brushing your teeth.
Aggressive Tooth Brushing Leads to Dental Damage
Many people who aggressively brush do so in order to remove as much plaque as possible and keep the teeth clean and healthy, which is why it may come as a surprise that aggressively brushing the teeth can actually be very damaging. Aggressive brushing can lead to such dental damage as:
- Enamel erosion: The friction created when brushing with too much pressure and using a hard-bristled toothbrush can cause the enamel to wear down. Over time, the enamel may become so worn that the delicate dentin layer of the teeth becomes exposed.
- Tooth sensitivity: The dentin layer of the teeth is full of tiny tubules that lead to the nerves of the teeth. As the dentin becomes exposed, the teeth often become more sensitive to hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods.
- Tooth decay: The enamel helps protect the teeth from decay. Aggressive brushing wears away the enamel, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
- Root canal infections: When aggressive brushing leads to tooth decay, the risk of root canal infection greatly increases. Root canal infections develop when decay penetrates to the inner structures of the teeth, allowing bacteria to reach the nerves, blood vessels, and pulp tissues. Root canal infections are serious and painful because they affect the nerves responsible for dental sensation and the blood vessels responsible for nourishing the teeth.
- Tooth loss: Ultimately, aggressively brushing the teeth may lead to tooth loss if tooth decay and root canal infections go untreated.
- Gum recession: Aggressive tooth brushing can cause gum recession by pushing the gums away from the teeth. Gum recession can expose the roots of the teeth to bacteria and plaque, increasing the risk of tooth decay and tooth loss.