Can You Go Too Far With Oral Hygiene Habits?

Could you be damaging your teeth with over brushing? Find out how to protect your teeth and gums from this common mistake.

Oral health teeth brushingOral hygiene is the cornerstone of healthy, happy teeth and gums. It is so important, and helps to prevent a myriad of issues with the teeth and gums.

What Is A Good Oral Hygiene Regime?

A good oral hygiene regime includes a few different factors to ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy. It includes:

  • Brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, using the right tools and ensuring your brushing technique is effective
  • Flossing at least once a day gently and precisely to remove plaque and bacteria under the gum line and between the teeth
  • Visiting Abbey Road Dental every six months for a checkup, or as often as is advised to you by your dentist
  • Avoiding unhealthy lifestyle habits like smoking, which can be very harmful to your oral health, and overall health

We also recommend you limit consuming lots of processed sugars, starchy carbs and acidic foods regularly. We may also advise you to consider using a special mouthguard if you have issues with bruxism, or you take part in contact sports.

Those with active gum disease or challenging health conditions that have an impact on oral health can also benefit from visiting our handy local hygienist for help with oral hygiene advice and professional cleaning.

Can Oral Hygiene Habits Go Too Far?

You can actually have too much of a good thing when it comes to oral hygiene, which can be incredibly harmful to your teeth.

Harm From Of Over Brushing

As we mentioned above, brushing regularly is essential for healthy gums and teeth. However, there is a huge amount of harm that you can do by overdoing it. Mostly, brushing too much isn’t about brushing regularly but more, brushing too hard.

When you brush too hard you can cause something called toothbrush abrasion. This is where you literally scrub and scrub and eventually wear down the outside layer of the teeth – the enamel. The enamel is the part that protects the deeper layers of tooth, so when you scrub it away, you can then get extremely sensitive teeth. You’ve exposed all those nerves by brushing too hard.

This sensitivity can be really painful for some people. Leaving you getting sharp pains when you drink very cold or very hot drinks. You might even feel it in your teeth when the wind blows cold air onto you. Ouch!

Unfortunately, the problems with over brushing don’t end there either. You can brush your teeth too hard and damage the gum tissue around your teeth. This not only causes soreness, but it can also cause the gums to recede. This exposes the roots of your teeth, contributing to the sensitivity we mentioned above. It also leaves your gums more open to gathering bacteria which aggravates them and makes you more at risk of gum disease. The receding gums are also a contributory factor to a heightened risk of tooth decay.

Who Is Most At Risk Of Damage From Over-Brushing?

Those most likely to cause damage from over-brushing are people who brush too hard. It is a person more likely to literally scrub their teeth, rather than brush them in the way a hygienist might recommend. It isn’t always easy to know that you’re over-brushing though. If it is the way you have always done it, you may not even realise.

Here are some common signs you might be brushing too hard:

  • Recessed gums
  • Bleeding gums after brushing
  • Swollen, sore or inflamed gums after you brush
  • Bristles that splay really quickly on a toothbrush

These symptoms (aside from the splayed toothbrush bristles) can also be signs of gum disease so it is imperative that you get the issue checked out as soon as possible if you notice them. It is also important to note that you can also over brush your teeth and gums because your toothbrush is too firm. You may be using a hard bristled brush which is just too much for your teeth and gums.

In most cases, over-brushing is diagnosed by a dentist or hygienist because the signs will be present in the mouth. They will likely rule out other causes of the issues and diagnose over-brushing, which you can easily rectify yourself with a change of habits.


As well as brushing too hard, you can also do some damage by over-flossing your teeth. This is when you use floss in a way where you perhaps pull it onto the tender gum tissue between the teeth, rather than glide it along the side of each tooth. You may also be flossing in a way that is too firm, causing the kinds of symptoms we mentioned above related to over-brushing.

In some instances, using a floss that is too thin, thick or abrasive can be problematic too. These materials can be damaging to the gums, causing soreness, bleeding and recession.

How Should You Brush & Floss?

The right technique of brushing is by gently brushing each arch surface for thirty seconds, totalling two minutes overall. Each tooth should be brushed during this time, and no areas missed.  You should be moving the brush in a circular motion in an angle where the bristles brush under the gum line. You should feel the bristles against the gums but not excessively.

This should be done twice a day without fail.

When it comes to flossing, it is a good idea to ask for a demonstration from your dentist or hygienist to show you how to do it, when you next see them. Ideally, it should involve a gentle up and down motion on the side of each tooth to disturb the bacteria and remove the debris and plaque between the teeth.

Getting Help From Your NW8 Hygienist

Your NW8 hygienist can help you find out which toothbrush type is right for you, and how to use it effectively without over-brushing. This is particularly helpful if you have never been shown how, or if you have dexterity issues that make brushing your teeth challenging. They can also give you some guidance on flossing and which type of floss to use. By perfecting your brushing technique you ensure your oral hygiene protects your teeth and gums, rather than causing you dental issues that can be prevented.

Please give us a call on 020 76241603 for more information about our hygienist services here at Abbey Road Dental. They can sometimes be booked independently of care from our dentists, so you don’t have to be a current Abbey Road Dental patient to access the help. This depends on a few factors though so please do give us a call to discuss it further – we’re here to help!

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