How Over Zealous Brushing Can Actually Harm Your Teeth

Although you should always brush your teeth; getting it wrong can be damaging!

As your dentist or hygienist will tell you, you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes both morning and last thing before going to bed.

Whilst most people do abide by this, many have simply copied the patterns of their parents, and probably their parents before them. In many cases, this can lead to not only ineffective brushing, but also a method of brushing that actually causes damage to the teeth and gums.

Below, we offer a check list for our Wickford and Rayleigh dental patients to see if you are brushing your teeth correctly or not.

How old is your toothbrush?

Are you still using the same toothbrush, or electric brush head that you were using more than three months ago? If you are, then throw it away and replace it. A worn brush or head is ineffective at removing plaque from your teeth. Over time, this will accumulate, and gingivitis and even periodontitis may follow.

Time yourself

You probably know that you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes. The chances are that most of us don’t time ourselves though, and simply guess when two minutes have passed. Try setting a timer. We suspect that you may find that you have been brushing for significantly less than the recommended two minutes.

Angle that brush

Brushing the teeth is not just about cleaning the surface enamel. It is also important to reach under the gum line where small particles of food and bacteria easily collect. To clean here, you need to angle the brush at around 45 degrees so that the bristles can reach just under the gum line.

Use a fluoride toothpaste

Most toothpastes do now include fluoride, but some ‘natural’ ones may not. Please check to make sure that yours does, as fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel of your teeth, protecting the softer porous dentine layer just underneath it.

Don’t brush too hard

If you have followed the advice of your parents, you are likely to have been told to give them a ‘good clean’. To many of us, this can mean brushing hard. Unfortunately, putting too much pressure when you brush can cause not only enamel erosion, but also receding gums. This not only makes the teeth appear longer, but also allows some of the lesser protected part of the tooth to become exposed. Many electric toothbrushes now include a pressure sensor which cuts out if you press too hard; so this might make a useful Christmas present and help to save teeth.

Did we mention dental floss?

OK, so not directly related to the toothbrush, but dental floss is important in reaching between the teeth where a brush won’t reach. Many problems start in this area, and adding flossing to your daily routine will be very beneficial.


Finally, please see the hygienist at the Cygnet Dental Practice at least twice a year for a professional clean. This is an excellent way of helping your teeth and gums to stay in tip top condition.

For any advice about your teeth or gums, or to arrange an appointment with our Wickford dentist or hygienist, please call us on 01268 733078.