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Can Aggressive Tooth Brushing Cause Dental Damage?

By Bruce Wilderman on February 07, 2017

A woman holding a toothbrushIt's common knowledge that brushing the teeth is important to oral health. While it may seem like the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will be, brushing too aggressively can actually do more harm than good. Fortunately, dental damage can be repaired and oral health restored with aesthetically pleasing restorative dentistry treatments. Although treatments are available to repair the damage caused by aggressive brushing, preventing damage is better for oral health. Learn more about dental damage and aggressive tooth brushing in this overview from Philadelphia, PA dentist Bruce Wilderman.

What Is Aggressive Tooth Brushing?

Aggressive tooth brushing, or “toothbrush abrasion,” is characterized by brushing the teeth with too much pressure, using a medium- or hard-bristled toothbrush, or both. Regularly brushing the teeth too aggressively can lead to serious dental damage, negating the benefits of tooth brushing. 

Dental Damage Caused by Aggressive Tooth Brushing

Aggressively brushing the teeth can lead to serious dental damage.

  • Enamel wear: Using too much pressure to brush the teeth can wear the enamel, the protective outer layer of the teeth, over time.
  • Sensitive teeth: As the enamel wears, the teeth may feel more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.
  • Receding gums: Aggressive brushing can cause the gums to recede. As the gums recede, the sensitive root areas of the teeth may be exposed and left vulnerable to decay.
  • Tooth decay: Tooth decay may develop as the enamel is worn away and the inner layers of the teeth become exposed to plaque, bacteria, and acids. 

Tips to Avoid Aggressive Tooth Brushing

Those who are most likely to suffer from dental damage as a result of aggressive brushing are those who use a medium- or hard-bristled toothbrush, use too much pressure, and brush two or more times a day. While it is important to brush at least twice a day, it's not necessary to use a heavy hand when brushing in order to remove plaque. Instead, follow these tips to avoid aggressive brushing and keep your smile healthy:

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush to safely remove plaque without damaging the enamel.
  • Use gentle pressure: Use gentle, even pressure to clean the teeth. If your toothbrush's bristles become flattened, you're using too much pressure.
  • Use small strokes: Use small, short strokes instead of moving the brush back and forth.
  • Keep the brush at a 45-degree angle: Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line while brushing.

Treatments for Dental Damage Caused by Aggressive Tooth Brushing

When aggressive brushing leads to dental damage, it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible to restore oral health. Fortunately, there are many treatment options for repairing dental damage caused by aggressive tooth brushing. Some popular treatments include:

  • Dental bonding: Dental bonding may be used to treat teeth with enamel erosion, preventing further damage and restoring the smile.
  • Tooth-colored fillings: Tooth decay caused by aggressive tooth brushing may be repaired with tooth-colored fillings.
  • Porcelain dental crowns: In cases where enamel erosion and tooth decay have become severe, porcelain dental crowns may be suitable for restoring oral health.
  • Gum surgery: Gum surgery may be necessary when gum recession has become severe. There are different types of gum surgery, including gum grafts, which may be used to restore the gum line.

Schedule a Consultation

To learn more about protecting your smile from dental damage and aggressive tooth brushing, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Wilderman.

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