Does your toothbrush get used five times a day? Are you constantly following your lunch hour with a stop to clean your pearly whites? Contrary to popular belief, there is such thing as too much brushing. Read on to find out why you might want to change your habits!
The ADA recommends using a toothbrush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, along with daily flossing. Brushing once in the morning and once at night is generally sufficient to keep bacteria at bay and ward off cavities and gum problems. However, many patients feel more comfortable supplementing this with a quick brush after each meal. To understand why this is a problem, it is important to know how tooth decay works. Every time we eat or drink anything other than water, our mouths become acidic for a 30 minute period. If you brush your teeth right after eating, you are basically taking a surface softened by acid and rubbing it down with sand paper. Over time, this can wear away tooth structure and slowly lead to new cavities. For this same reason, many dentists recommend brushing your teeth in the morning before breakfast.
Naturally, using your tooth brush occasionally after meals to clear out sticky or stringy food is not a problem. If you want to add something to your daily routine to clean your teeth after meals, there are still a number of great options. You can always swish with fluoridated water for a quick and easy clean. To get food out of the grooves and pits of teeth, consider chewing a stick of xylitol gum. Finally, try modifying the order that you eat foods to self-clean your mouth. Hard, moist fruits and veggies like apples, celery, and carrots will naturally dislodge sticky carbs like cookies and crackers. If you would like more information on keeping your teeth in top shape, feel free to contact our office!
As an aside, you can also brush your teeth too hard! Habitually aggressive brushers usually present with distinct patterns of abrasion and gum recession. To best prevent this, use a light touch while brushing (lighter than you think!). Additionally, many electric toothbrushes now come with built in pressure sensors to take the guesswork out of brushing force.