You’ve heard it before numerous times: brush your teeth no less than twice a day. But what about more? Is it safe to brush your teeth an extra time after lunch or a sugar-packed beverage? Or is overbrushing damaging to your oral health?
These questions are all great ones and the answers aren’t so obvious. Luckily, there’s no such thing as brushing too often if you’re doing it right. However, there is such a thing as overbrushing—or brushing too aggressively—that is never good for your teeth, regardless of how often you do it.
Your technique and tools are key. Are you using the right ones? Keep reading to find out…
Inspect Your Toothbrush’s Bristles
Off the shelf, a brand new toothbrush’s bristles are still rounded and smooth. The nylon bristles are designed to have no rough edges so they are gentle on teeth and gums.
With regular use, this all changes. The corners that used to be smooth wear down and become jagged. What was once non-abrasive is now harsh and unsafe for your teeth. This typically happens around the 6-month mark, the same length of time dentists recommend keeping a toothbrush before replacing it. You may even want to do it sooner if you notice excessive wear.
Regardless of how gently you brush, at a certain point, using damaged bristles on your teeth counts as overbrushing and can damage your teeth and gums as well.
Brushes Are All Different
Harsh and stiff bristles right out of the packaging can be just as bad as old warped bristles. Your dentin and enamel are vulnerable to damage from any tool that is too abrasive. Unfortunately, some toothbrushes you can find in drugstores would probably be better suited to cleaning other stronger surfaces.
It makes sense that stiffer bristles would provide a better clean, but when it comes to your teeth, the tradeoffs aren’t worth it. Choosing a soft bristled brush over a medium or hard one will clean your teeth just as good without the bleeding and irritation.
If you don’t know which to choose, your dentist should be able to offer their recommendations.
Perfect Your Technique
The perfect brush won’t do you any good if you’re still treating your teeth like the grout in your bathroom! If you’re like many people, you probably place too much pressure on your teeth when brushing.
In fact, you really should be gently “massaging” your teeth instead of “brushing” them. Using small circular motions is best while holding your brush at a 45 degree angle for your front teeth and a direct angle for the back.
Though it’s generally safe to brush your teeth after eating, it’s best practice to wait at least 30 minutes. This is especially important if you ate something acidic like citrus. The acids in food alter your PH balance, temporarily weakening your enamel and making them vulnerable to damage.
At the end of the day, it’s more about how you brush than how many times you brush. So brush away all you want—just don’t overdo it!