You’ve heard it over and over again: brush your teeth twice a day to maintain oral health. But what if you want to brush more than twice—say after lunchtime or before an important meeting? Is there a limit to how many times a day you can brush your pearly whites?
The short answer is: no, there is no such thing as brushing your teeth too often. However, depending on your technique, there is such a thing as overbrushing. And you may even be guilty of it if you only brush the recommended two times daily.
It’s all about the technique and tools you’re using. Brushing too aggressively with harsh bristles can cause damage to your gums, dentin and enamel. Wonder if you’ve been overbrushing without knowing it? Keep reading…
Swap Out Your Old Toothbrush
Toothbrushes are designed to have smooth, rounded bristles that are both gentle yet effective at getting your teeth clean. However, with normal wear and tear, the nylon bristles will begin to degrade over time, making them highly abrasive and not at all safe for your teeth.
To counter this, dentists typically recommend replacing your old toothbrush every six months, or sooner if they wear out faster.
If you continue to use a toothbrush with damaged bristles, even brushing just twice a day can be too much. Luckily, it’s likely you will feel the difference when it’s time for a new brush!
Toothbrushes Aren’t All Created Equal
There’re so many different toothbrush options out there today, and it can be hard to know which to choose. To add to the confusion, some toothbrushes on the market—even when new—are too harsh for daily brushing.
In general, you’ll find three varieties: soft, medium and hard. Soft bristles are the best choice, but also make sure you can see that the tips are rounded. Though you may worry that the soft bristles won’t give you as good of a clean, rest assured that they are just as effective as the firmer versions, while also offering protection.
Your dentist can offer their recommendations if you still are unsure which to purchase.
New, soft bristles won’t do you any good if you’re still applying excessive pressure when you brush. It’s best to think about brushing your teeth as a gentle “massage” rather than “scrubbing” them like you were going to town on your bathroom grout.
Start at your gum line and go up and down in small circles. For the front of your teeth, hold your brush at a 45-degree angle relative to your gum line. Use a direct angle for chewing surfaces. For the backs, use vertical, back and forth strokes. This will give them a thorough gentle clean, and help you reach all the spaces plaque may be lingering.
If you’ve just eaten, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes before you brush, especially after consuming acidic drinks like coffee or orange juice as they alter the PH balance in your mouth. The PH should go back to normal in time, making it less likely for the acids to damage your enamel when your mouth is in a vulnerable state.
Hopefully now you understand what is considered overbrushing—and that it has nothing to do with how many times a day you brush! For best results, be sure to use the correct tools and technique and you can brush your teeth as frequently as you see fit. As long as it’s at least twice a day, of course!