Am I Brushing Too Hard?

September 20, 2021

Brushing our teeth at least twice each day is one of the best ways we can maintain the health of our teeth and gums. But can you brush too hard? The answer is Yes. Signs of aggressive brushing habits are a common finding in patients of any age. If your toothbrush looks like it’s having a bad hair day with bristles going in all directions, you may be brushing too hard.

Many people think that brushing harder will result in cleaner, healthier teeth and gums. This common misconception can result in receding gums and sensitivity of the teeth over time. Gums are relatively fragile tissues, and once damaged with recession, they will not grow back to normal levels without gum surgery.

Signs that you may be brushing too hard include:

  • Toothbrush bristles are flattened or messy looking
  • Gums are receded, exposing the darker root surface of the teeth
  • Teeth are sensitive to cold, hot or sweets

Old habits die hard, so if you’re accustomed to brushing hard for years, expect a challenge when trying to develop proper, gentler brushing habits. Here are some helpful tips on how to avoid brushing too hard:

  • Only grip your toothbrush with 2-3 fingers. This will help lighten the pressure used when brushing
  • Use a soft or extra soft bristle toothbrush
  • Gently brush using small circular motions. Do not brush with a sawing side-to-side motion
  • If using an electric toothbrush, gently guide the brush along the teeth and gums and allow the brush to do most of the work.  Electric toothbrushes can cause more gum damage IF you are an aggressive brusher. Some electric toothbrushes come with pressure sensors that alert you when using too much pressure

While it is important to brush thoroughly twice a day, thoroughly does not mean harder. 

If you think you have gum damage from aggressive toothbrushing, give our office a call 775-825-9225. 
Dr. Swanson in Reno, NV regularly examines his patients for teeth and gum damage, and can offer advice or treatment for your specific needs.