It may seem reasonable that if the goal is clean teeth and gums, that when it comes to choosing a toothbrush, harder is better. After all, plaque and tartar sound so serious, so difficult to remove, so obstinate — wouldn’t it make more sense to blast them away with the hardest toothbrush, the most vigorous flossing routine imaginable and the harshest toothpaste you can find? No! Far from it! Power and brute force are not the way to fight tooth and gum disease. In fact, severe toothbrushing is also detrimental to your dental health.
Defining Traumatic Tooth Brushing
A 2015 study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology looked at the effects of “traumatic tooth brushing” on gum recession. It showed that there are several factors that worsen wear and tear on the gums. These include the amount of pressure used in the brushing process, how often the subjects brushed, and how soft their toothbrushes were.
What is traumatic tooth brushing? Basically, bad tooth brushing habits fall into three categories: how often, type of technique and type of brush. Regarding “how often” or frequency, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice a day, and a third time after the midday meal is just fine. Brush more than this, however, and you could be starting to brush excessively. When you brush, do you brush with gentle circular motions, or do you move the toothbrush from side-to-side? Horizontal tooth brushing is a factor in traumatic tooth brushing. Do you use anything harder than a soft toothbrush? Then you add one more factor that contributes to traumatic toothbrushing.
What can you do if you have a habit of traumatic tooth brushing? Some overcome it with an electric toothbrush. These units do the work for you and the best provide timers that brush for the recommended two minutes. Your job is to gently place them between your tooth and gums, slowing moving them along your gum line, allowing the appliance to do the work for you. No harsh movements, no toothbrush handles bending under brute force, and no ultra-hard (or even medium strength) bristles causing gum damage.
Whether or not you opt for an electric tooth cleaning system, it is definitely time to ditch that hard or medium bristled toothbrush. Take it out of your dental care area right now, and put it where it should go – in your housecleaning supplies for scrubbing the grout! That’s the only place in your house hard toothbrushes belong. Then pick up soft bristled toothbrushes in styles and colors you like. Be sure to look for brushes that are approved by the ADA.
Toothbrushing is not something that you’re born knowing how to do. It is a skill, and if you have questions about the proper technique for brushing, please bring it up at your next dental appointment. The staff at the Sacramento Dentistry Group is happy to discuss how to keep your teeth clean, your gums healthy and your smile beautiful – with a soft-bristled toothbrush!