Are You Brushing Your Teeth Too Much?

Sweet, sour, salty, or bitter, 10,000 cells on your tongue let you taste it all. 

We’re going to say right off the bat that you should definitely brush your teeth. No one’s saying otherwise. The advice you were given as a kid still holds up: brush twice a day, two minutes each time (or two renditions of “Happy Birthday” per side, as kids are usually directed). But why two minutes? What makes that the magic timer? According to the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, brushing for one minute removes just 27 percent of plaque. Brushing for two minutes removes around 41 percent of plaque. 

So wait a minute, you might be asking yourself, if brushing for two minutes still leaves the majority of the plaque on my teeth, why stop there? Why not really get crazy with it and start brushing for five to ten minutes at a time? Forget the birthday song, let’s brush to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” Seventeen minutes of classic psychedelic rock should get those pearly whites sparkling, yeah?

Well it turns out you may actually wind up doing more harm than good. Now dentists are warning us that some people are out there brushing their teeth too much. As we all know, your teeth are covered in a layer of enamel, and overbrushing can strip your teeth of this protective coating, leading in turn to all manner of dental problems from cavities to gingivitis. Two minutes at a time, twice a day, is really all you need to remove harmful plaque while preserving your teeth’s enamel.

In addition to keeping a strict time limit, dentists also recommend a softer toothbrush. Compared to a modern toothbrush with its stiff bristles and rubber “gum stimulators,” a softer toothbrush might feel a bit like you’re brushing with nothing. But that’s kind of the point – you can rub plaque off with a rag if you really needed to. The bristles are really just supposed to gently lift plaque from the hard-to-reach parts of your teeth. Anything beyond that is overkill.

There are several warning signs that you might be overbrushing, starting with the gums. If you’re overdoing it, you’ll notice that they are red and swollen after you brush. You might also notice some sensitivity and receding gums. If that’s the case, go get a nice soft toothbrush and start learning the words to “Happy Birthday.”


Where to Get a Great Smile

Habersham Dental Center
2515 Habersham St, Savannah, GA 31401

Howard Family Dental 
206 Johnny Mercer Blvd, Savannah, GA

Godley Station Dental
1000 Towne Center Blvd #101, Pooler, GA

Pediatric Dentistry of Savannah
310 Eisenhower Dr #6,
Savannah, GA 31406