You're Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard If This Happens To You

Sitting in the chair at the dentist waiting for your exam results can make anyone a little nervous. You may be thinking to yourself — "I should have flossed more," or "I didn't brush enough," but did you know brushing your teeth too hard can be as detrimental as not flossing?

That may sound counterintuitive — the harder you brush your teeth, the cleaner and whiter they get, right? Dentists say that's not the case. In fact, overbrushing your teeth or brushing too rigorously can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear down, resulting in tooth sensitivity and gum recession (via Everyday Health).

"People tend to brush aggressively, thinking it's the only way they can get their teeth to feel clean and look whiter," Chicago-based dentist Dr. Gene Romo told Everyday Health. "That's counterproductive, because not only does it cause recession of your gums, but you're also wearing away the white, glossy enamel on your teeth, making them look yellow and darker."

How to tell if you are brushing your teeth too hard

This issue is more common than you might think. Dentists believe that as much as 10-20% of the population has damaged their teeth or gums from brushing too hard (via Wall Street Journal). There are other factors that contribute to this damage as well. Using medium or hard-bristled toothbrushes, grinding your teeth, and previously having braces can also increase the risk. You may also be genetically predisposed to have receding gums, which can lead to the need for fillings, root canals, and tooth removals if periodontal disease or cavities form on the roots.

Think you might be brushing too hard? Check out your toothbrush — if it's new but already looks pretty frayed, you probably are going too hard (via Everyday Health). Try out a soft-bristled toothbrush that has the American Dental Association seal on it. You also will want to slow down your brushing technique, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, and gently move your brush in small, short strokes.

Be sure to consult with your dental team for specific tips on how you can improve your brushing technique and for a rundown on how your brushing affects your dental health.