Overbrushing Your Teeth: Is it Possible?

Our Dental Blog | Child Dentistry, Dental Tips | 12.11.2020

While it may be unheard of amongst your family and friends, some children DO take to their hygiene habits quite seriously from an early age.

Obviously, not a habit that we can expect from every child, as we all learn differently, but while you may be a proud parent ready to brag about your kid’s glistening smile, there might be an issue you should be aware of that isn’t often brought up.


What is Overbrushing?

To be honest, there isn’t an amount of time or amount of times in a day that we can call overbrushing. Dentists will have their recommendations, however, a lot of the benefits and detriments of brushing come down to simply your technique.

Are you brushing aggressively? Only side-to-side? Do you brush for 1-minute or 5-minutes?

These types of habits will vary between individuals, but there is one commonality between every patient we have seen overbrush and that is their symptoms.

But first – why would overbrushing be a thing in the first place? For some individuals (not pointing fingers), they have only ever been told they haven’t been brushing enough. Let’s take a look at what

Why Would Overbrushing be Bad?

Toothpaste and Their Ingredients

There are two main reasons why overbrushing might be harmful, the first of which is the products we use to clean our teeth.

While it may seem counterintuitive to read all your toothpaste products and think, “This is bad for me”, oral product marketing is not necessarily the say-all-be-all it may try to portray when it comes to protecting your teeth.

Especially when most brands will feature healthy-sounding phrases such as enamel strengthening, sensitivity protection, and any other 5 to 10 benefits they can fit on their packaging. Why would any of this be detrimental?

The truth of it is – toothpaste products are meant to for seldom use.

Plenty of the ingredients are meant to supplement what a good diet can provide for our oral health, as well as practices such as flossing. The problem lies within how much toothpaste you are exposed to.

As we have suggested in earlier blogs, you only need a small pea-sized drop of toothpaste – none of the lengthy globs you see on commercials.

The reason is that toothpaste contains abrasives. In fact, there is even an abrasiveness scale used amongst toothpaste brands and you can find a list of common products used found here.

In practice, these abrasive ingredients are used to scrape away stuck-on plaque and bacteria that might not release from simply your toothbrush bristles. To do so, these ingredients are manufactured to be tough on tartar and plaque, which is why frequent brushing isn’t recommended.

Simply put, these abrasives don’t stop working at just your plaque. They can end up depleting softened enamel, leaving your teeth worse off without being careful of when and how often you brush.

Toothbrush and Technique

The second factor that plays into overbrushing is the technique you or your children implement with your toothbrush. Ultimately, you are looking to gently massage your gums with a soft-bristled toothbrush, however, this isn’t everyone’s preference – nor is it a likely case if you don’t set time aside for dental hygiene.

Some people are just trying to get the job done quickly, thinking that aggressive and fast brushing will seemingly produce the same results as methodically slow brushing. This could not be further from the truth.

Often with aggressive brushers, teeth will be wiped without thought and with an unnecessary amount of force to keep up the pace. But being in a rush is nothing but a deterrent for living your life to its healthiest. Brushing and flossing require your concentration. If not, you are likely to miss teeth, hard to reach places, and even potentially damage your gums due to carelessness.

While this habit might only occur once in a blue moon for you, for far too many it is almost a daily occurrence. When this occurs, plaque and tartar have plenty of time to compound themselves, leading to further degradation of your teeth and gums.

Dental Hygiene Explained

With decades worth of research and a civilizations thirst for inventing useful products, our world has luckily never taken part in as much dental hygiene as it does today.

This is, of course, thanks to all the doctors and patients providing us with the necessary knowledge and data we need to keep our mouths clean. From toothpaste to water flossers, we can stand on the backs of giants and tell you the best way to maintain optimal dental hygiene.

First, see your dentist regularly.

We can’t say this enough. You wouldn’t skip out on your checkups at the Doctor’s office, so why do it at the dentist’s? Hygiene starts with regular dentist visits, and as we all probably know from experience, it’s much better to prevent an issue than it is solving one.

Saying that our next step is to have diligence in our dental habits.

Try not to miss brushing your teeth (twice a day!); floss at least once a day, preferably before bedtime so food can sit in your gums for an entire 8 hours. However, flossing is better than not flossing, so find out what time works best for you and you can keep it in your routine.

Lastly, is safety.

This doesn’t just apply to sports, but also your diet. How you might ask?

Well, it is simple enough to agree that you should wear a mouthguard when playing sports – that’s obvious, but, how about brushing your teeth after eating something overly acidic?

While that might sound dangerous to you, your enamel might disagree. Part of a proper dental hygiene routine not only requires you to brush your teeth religiously, it also essential to have the awareness to know when you should brush your teeth.

Unfortunately, our enamel is not the superhero we like to make it out to be – but if it is, then acidic foods are your enamel’s kryptonite.

Acid erosion is all too common with popular soft drinks and sugary foods often eating by today’s youth. Even too much citrus, such as in orange juice, can soften your enamel, leading to a weakened state susceptible to damage from vigorous brushing.

It is recommended to wait at least 30 minutes after eating to take care of brushing.

If this wait isn’t possible (maybe you’re late for school or work), rinse your mouth with water or milk to adjust the pH back to a more alkaline state. This can also be done with eating foods that are low in carbohydrates and sugar after eating something acidic.

Either way, this will help preserve your enamel’s strength over the years of brushing to come!

Worried About Your Child’s Enamel?

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Treehouse Dental Care for any concerns you may have about your child’s dental hygiene or health.

Our team of highly trained professionals are naturals with children and have an appetite for educating anyone on the benefits of proper dental hygiene.

Feel free to give us a call today to book your next appointment or check-up!

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