Toothbrush Abrasion- Causes and Solutions
In our quest for a healthy, clean mouth, we are told to brush our teeth vigorously. However, brushing too vigorously can result in what is referred to as “toothbrush abrasion”. This is the wearing away of the tooth at the area when it meets the gum. One of the most common causes of this is improper toothbrushing. Solutions include changing brushing habits and switching to electric toothbrushes. Brushing too hard can result in recession of the gums, and wearing away of the softer layers of the tooth underneath, including the dentin, which is underneath the hard outer enamel layer, and the cementum, which covers the root. A notch can be worn in the tooth, causing more susceptibility to decay and sensitivity.The most common cause of abrasion is improper brushing in one form or another. A hard toothbrush places too much pressure on the teeth, and a worn brush can have bristles that become hard as they wear. If a person is too vigorous with brushing, this can also cause damage.
A soft bristle toothbrush is important, as well as changing brushes every three months, or when your brush becomes worn out. The touch should be light but firm. Pushing too hard results in damage to the fragile gums, causing recession and subsequent tooth wear. A good technique if you think you are brushing too hard is to hold the toothbrush with only your thumb and first two fingers. So remember: Toothbrush, Technique, and Touch. The idea is to contact all of the teeth with a gentle touch, at a fort-five degree angle to the gums.
Another solution, which takes the human factor out of the equation, is to switch to an electric toothbrush. There are many models available, ranging in price from $30-$120. The less expensive models simply move in a circular motion. The more expensive ones, which we frequently recommend as being a great investment, are the “sonic” toothbrushes, such as the Sonicare, and the Sensonic brands. The head of this brush vibrates at 30,000 times a minute, effectively removing debris, with little pressure on the teeth.
If the wear is severe enough, it is usually recommended to fill the worn area with tooth-colored composite resin, and polishing. If you are concerned about this, or any other dental matters, a dentist will be happy to answer questions and offer recommendations. Keep smiling!