Over-brushing Is A Thing: How Often to Brush Your Teeth

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Everyone wants a clean mouth and bright smile. The number of teeth whitening products on the market can attest to this fact. A good oral hygiene regime consists of keeping plaque from the teeth by brushing regularly, as well as flossing and regular dentist visits. Some people, however, can take it overboard. Brushing is essential to a healthy mouth but too much brushing can be harmful. Few people realize that over-brushing can cause more harm than good; the key is to understand your teeth, and the basics of oral hygiene.

Brushing Recommendations

The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice daily. Eating and drinking leaves particles of food and sugar on the teeth. Plaque is also found on the teeth, and the buildup of plaque is a natural process that cannot be stopped. When foods interact with the plaque, it releases bacteria that attacks the protective enamel on the teeth, eventually causing cavities, gum disease and pain. Plaque also turns into tartar if not removed regularly; this deposit is hard and not easy to get rid of.

We are taught from an early age to brush our teeth in the morning and before bed, but also after every meal and following sugary snacks. This could be three, four, five times a day or more. While it seems like a good thing to keep the mouth clean and free of plaque, there are several reasons not to brush more than two to three times a day, as recommended by the ADA.

Twice a Day

Brushing excessively will cause enamel to wear down. It irritates the gums and eventually exposes the roots of the teeth. Exposed roots lead to all sorts of dental issues and can cause serious pain. Once plaque is removed, it takes approximately 12 hours for it to build up to a dangerous level again. Brushing twice per day is enough to remove all plaque.

When to Brush?

There is also the question of when to brush. Brushing at the wrong times can be more harmful than not brushing. Acidic foods and drinks weaken the enamel, so, after eating these types of foods, one should wait at least 30 minutes to an hour before brushing. This allows the enamel to strengthen. Brushing immediately after ingesting acidic foods can remove some of the enamel from the teeth.

Bacterial Threats

There are other dangers as well. People who carry a toothbrush with them everywhere are also exposing their teeth to a plethora of bacteria and germs, which can adhere to the bristles of the brush in a purse or other compartment. Even inside a plastic sandwich baggie, bacteria can transfer from the toothbrush to the bag and vice versa, both ending up in your mouth.

Some people cannot associate a clean mouth with anything but a freshly brushed one. The truth is that brushing at the wrong times, or too much, can be harmful to your teeth as well and can cause pain. If you just don’t feel clean until you brush your teeth, try chewing a piece of sugar-free minty gum or using a breath freshener. Many are designed to help keep teeth clean and plaque-free between brushing.

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