“Too much of a good thing” seems impossible to apply to tooth brushing, but it turns out, brushing teeth too hard can actually do more harm than good. An estimated ten to 20% of people in the U.S. damage their teeth by brushing too hard in a well-intentioned effort to maintain their oral health. Are you brushing teeth too hard? Keep reading to find out.

What happens if you brush your teeth too hard?

Brushing teeth twice daily is a good practice to get into – if you are brushing correctly. But, overbrushing is a thing. Here are some signs you might be brushing teeth too hard.

Receding gums

Although your teeth are hard and made of bone, your gums are delicate tissue that can be easily damaged by brushing teeth too hard.

When you ply your toothbrush too vigorously, the delicate gum tissue can become:

  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Sensitive

Eventually it will begin to pull away from the tooth. These receding gums are just the beginning of a host of other dental issues.

Sensitive teeth

Yes, your teeth are strong, but one of the major signs of brushing too hard is sensitive teeth.

Over time, brushing too hard with anything other than a soft-bristled brush can cause enamel to eventually wear away. Once this enamel is gone, nerves are exposed, increasing your tooth sensitivity.

Abscessed tooth or cavity

Once gums pull away from the teeth, spaces open up between teeth and gum. This space can create pockets for bacteria to rest.

Once bacteria finds these gingival pockets, they begin to feed and multiply. Eventually, this turns into an abscessed tooth, a pus-filled infection that can be located in the gum or even in the bone.

Tooth decay can also begin when the enamel wears down, opening space for cavity.

Who is most at risk for overbrushing?

There are certain risk factors for brushing teeth too hard. People who favor a medium- or hard-bristled toothbrush are more likely to brush teeth too hard, especially if they are very diligent in their oral hygiene.

Other risk factors for brushing teeth too hard include:

  • Genetic predisposition for receding gums: In this case, brushing too hard increases the chances of receding gums occurring.
  • Bruxism: Clenching and grinding teeth seems to go hand-in-hand with overbrushing. These two conditions combined can speed up uneven wearing of teeth, causing a more rapid decline in oral health.
  • Bite correction with braces: It may be that the emphasis on good oral hygiene while braces are on teeth causes overbrushing once they are removed.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): For people with OCD, overbrushing is a possibility. Overbrushing may not be the way this disorder manifests itself, but those who experience OCD may not only brush their teeth too h