How hard do you brush your teeth? Do you scrub them like you’re cleaning the bathtub? Maybe you’ve always believed you have to scour your teeth to get them “nice and clean.” If you really bear down when you brush, then…lighten up! Studies have shown nearly 70% of the population brushes too forcefully. Brushing loosens food particles. But brushing should be done gently. A soft bristle brush should be used. Flossing gets to the places your toothbrush cannot reach.
Once the food has been cleared away, fluoride can protect tooth enamel, and minimize the effects of acidic bacteria. Plaque is that sticky yellowish film that builds up on our teeth. Plaque accumulates most notably in the absence of brushing. Plaque is like tiny colonies of germs that cause cavities. Fluoride fights these germs to reduce the possibility of cavities forming. Use of a dentist-recommended oral rinse can make a tremendous difference in reducing plaque, the germs that cause plaque, and improving annual dental checkups.
Fluoride prevents decay in two main ways:
- It diminishes the ability of bacteria in plaque to generate tooth-weakening acids.
- It assists to regenerate mineralization of weakened areas of teeth where acid attack has already begun.
But scrubbing causes damage to tooth enamel, as well as traumatizing gum tissue, often resulting in gum recession. The potential for gum disease increases as the roots of the teeth are exposed. Once gums begin to recede and tooth enamel thins, tooth integrity diminishes rapidly. Bone loss can occur.
So how can you stop over brushing from years of doing so? Awareness is the first step. But it can take a Herculean effort to break this habit if it’s gone on for years. Many people find the most effective action to correct over brushing is to buy a “sonic” type toothbrush. If the roots of your teeth show signs of exposure or if your teeth have become especially sensitive, call Lake Orion Family Dentistry at (248) 693-6213. Dr. Greenfield presently serves many satisfied residents in the Lake Orion, Michigan area.