Does Brushing Teeth Damage Enamel?
This blog post will address the topic, “does brushing teeth damage enamel” and cover topics like when and how often you should brush your teeth, risks of over brushing your teeth and its prevention with proper tooth brushing technique.
Does Brushing Teeth Damage Enamel?
Vigorous and fast brushing regularly, with too much force can cause the outermost layer of teeth to erode, increasing the risk for enamel abrasion, tooth sensitivity, and gum recession.
It is therefore advised to concentrate more on “how” you brush your teeth rather than “how much” you brush your teeth.
When And How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth To Avoid Enamel Damage?
It is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with a toothpaste containing fluoride.
It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning, just after waking up and once at night, just before going to bed.
You must also clean your teeth and gums, each time after you have food but not with a toothbrush. Simple rinse with water is considered good for overall oral health and hygiene.
While considering when to brush your teeth, you must keep in mind the type of food you just had.
Do not brush immediately after having any acidic food or drink as these acids weaken tooth enamel, and brushing immediately can cause enamel wearing or erosion making your teeth more susceptible to developing cavities.
Infants and Children: When and How To Brush?
It is important for infants and children to maintain good oral hygiene for a good overall health and development.
Use a soft-bristled infant toothbrush with a rice grain size of fluoride toothpaste for brushing their teeth.
Children 3 to 6 years old can brush their teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, for 2 minutes each time using a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste.
It is important to supervise the brushing sessions of Infants and children, to prevent them from swallowing the fluoride toothpaste.
Risks of Over Brushing Your Teeth
Over-brushing your teeth not only means brushing your teeth more times than recommended but also brushing incorrectly with extra force and pace.
Vigorous and fast brushing regularly, with too much force can cause the outermost layer of teeth to erode, increasing the risk for dental abrasion, tooth sensitivity, and gum recession.
Dental abrasion is a form of dental damage caused by incorrect application of force by any external object. In this case, it is aggressive brushing of teeth.
Over-brushing with aggressive force causes wearing away of enamel and finally the softer dentin and cementum, leading to yellow or brown spots on tooth near the gumline.
These yellow or brown spots or V-shaped indentation of the tooth along the gumline are also signs of dental abrasion.
Brushing your teeth aggressively, wears the tooth enamel away, exposing the nerve endings of the dentin layer.
These exposed nerve endings when irritated due to any hot, cold, sweet or sour stimuli or toothbrushing, causes pain, sensitivity and discomfort.
Regular over-brushing with too much force and with incorrect technique leads to gum recession, in which, the gums recede exposing the root cementum.
The exposed root cementum causes pain and sensitivity and also increases the risk of tooth decay.
Treatments to Protect Enamel After Over Brushing
Over-brushing of teeth leads to enamel abrasion, tooth sensitivity and gum recession.
Enamel abrasion and gum recession, if left untreated, may lead to caries and even tooth loss.
To relieve the discomfort of dental abrasion and dental sensitivity, your dentist may recommend treatments to protect the tooth and cover up the exposed dentin.
These treatments might include:
- Fluoride varnish to make the teeth surface strong
- Tooth-colored filling over the abraded area
- Veneer to cover up the exposed area.
Gum grafting surgery will be required to replace the missing gum tissue and protect the exposed cementum in cases of gum recession.
Preventing Enamel Damage Through Proper Brushing Technique and Tools
The following mentioned proper tooth brushing techniques and tools can be followed to prevent from over-brushing and its after-effects:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Choose a fluoride toothpaste with optimum amount of calcium and low abrasive agent
- Use the proper tooth brushing technique
- Avoid brushing immediately after eating, especially when you have any acidic food or drink.
- Do not open bottles with your teeth, or hold any sharp objects in your mouth, or bite your fingernails, as all of these may lead to dental abrasion causing your enamel to wear away.
Techniques Other Than Normal Brushing To Prevent Enamel Damage
Once you know the basics of tooth brushing discussed above, here are some additional points to note:
- Drink fluoridated water: Fluoride strengthens the enamel and prevents dental caries.
- Say no to Tobacco: Tobacco in any form increases the risk of tooth decay
- Use a fluoridated mouth rinse: Fluoride reduces the amount of acid produced by the bacteria on your teeth and prevents tooth decay.
- Take fluoride as recommended by your dentist
- Upgrade to an electric toothbrush: Electric toothbrush helps remove excess plaque buildup from your teeth compared to a manual toothbrush
- Have a healthy diet with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables: This diet will cut-down the sugar that increases the risk of cavities.
HOW TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH IN 2 MINS: THE CORRECT WAY
Here is how you can brush your teeth in 2 mins with correct technique and avoid over-brushing and its associated discomfort:
- Use a small amount of water to lubricate your brush.
- Put a small, pea-size amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush head.
- At about a 45-degree angle to your gums , place the toothbrush into your mouth
- Use gentle, short strokes to brush your front teeth.
- Brush the outside surfaces as well as the back molars and upper areas of your chewing surfaces.
- Brush the inside surfaces of both top and bottom front teeth by flipping your toothbrush upside down.
- Brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria or plaque.
- Spit out the toothpaste, saliva, and water into a sink.
- Rinse your mouth with cold water and you are done.
This blog post addressed the topic, “does brushing teeth damage enamel”. We understood that over-brushing teeth can cause multiple problems and learnt what the recommended brushing time and number is. The article outlined the correct brushing techniques to avoid over-brushing and reasons why you must brush twice a day.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Does Brushing Teeth Damage Enamel
IS IT BETTER TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH IN THE MORNING OR NIGHT?
While it is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day, in the morning when you wake up and at night before you go to bed, brushing at night is actually more beneficial.
It is actually better to brush in the night because the saliva production reduces significantly at night. This makes the plaque formation and bacterial attack to your tooth enamel more significant and cause more damage.
During the day, saliva production is optimum. Saliva has antibacterial properties and also acid neutralizing action. Thus, plaque formation is not much significant during the day.
Is brushing your teeth twice a day bad?
No. Brushing your teeth two times daily for 2 minutes each can reduce the risk of cavities formation, gum disease, and other oral health conditions.
Make sure you follow the correct brushing technique, have proper brush selection, use a fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily to get maximum benefit.
What happens if I brush my teeth twice a day?
Brushing teeth twice a day basically destroys the bacteria from your mouth and prevents the enamel damage from acid produced by the bacteria.
Brushing teeth twice a day is recommended by ADA and keeps you in good oral hygiene and free from any dental conditions.
How many minutes should you brush your teeth?
You must brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each using a proper toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste.
This will prevent plaque accumulation and keep your mouth free from dental caries or any gum diseases.
When should I brush my teeth at night?
The best time for brushing teeth at night is just before going to bed.
Saliva production reduces at night and therefore the bacteria and acid produced does not wash away leading to risk of developing cavities or periodontal conditions.
Brushing at night, just before going to bed, will ensure minimum bacterial accumulation and minimal acid production and prevent any oral conditions to develop.
What happens if you don’t brush in the morning?
If you don’t brush your teeth in the morning, tartar accumulates on the surface of your teeth and can be difficult to clean leading to bad breath.
Is it bad to drink water after brushing your teeth?
No. It is not bad to drink water after brushing your teeth but make sure that you don’t drink or rinse after using a fluoride mouthwash as this may dilute the effectiveness of the fluoride.
What happens if we drink water without brushing our teeth?
When you drink water without brushing your teeth, your saliva carries all the bacteria with the water down into the stomach.
The high acid content in the stomach destroys all the bacteria. Therefore there is absolutely no harm to drink water before brushing your teeth, first thing in the morning.
Should you brush your teeth after every meal?
Yes, you should brush your teeth after every meal or at least after dinner, just before going to bed. This ensures minimal bacterial accumulation and hence good oral health.
Always use gentle, short strokes to brush your teeth. Vigorously brushing causes wearing away of enamel and exposing dentin and cementum leading to pain, sensitivity and decay.
Why Do Teeth Turn Yellow?
There are many reasons for your teeth turning yellow. It may be due to thinning of enamel and dentin due to regular and continuous aggressive brushing, or smoking or tobacco chewing, or staining from tea and coffee, or excess use of fluoride.
Can yellow teeth become white?
Yes. Yellow teeth can become white by undergoing the whitening process as recommended by your dentist and your dental hygienist.
Other FAQs about Teeth brushing that you may be interested in.
- Is Over Brushing Your Teeth Bad?
- How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth? (2021)
- Toothbrushing tips for young children. (2014).
- When and how often should you brush your teeth? (2021)
- Tooth Brushing Mistakes You Make and How to Fix Them. (2016)
- Fluoride, Oral Health Foundation
- Stoltze, K., & Bay, L. (1994). Comparison of a manual and a new electric toothbrush for controlling plaque and gingivitis. Journal of clinical periodontology, 21(2), 86-90.
- Baruah, Kaveri, et al. “A review on toothbrushes and tooth brushing methods.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical Science Invention 6.5 (2017): 29-38.