We all know we need to brush our teeth to remove plaque and prevent tooth decay and gum disease. But did you know that you can also damage your teeth and gums because of toothbrush abrasion?
This is because using hard bristle toothbrushes, applying too much pressure while brushing your teeth, or using abrasive toothpaste can be as damaging as your teeth and gum over the long run, as is using sandpaper on wood.
What causes toothbrush abrasion?
Toothbrush abrasion is basically physical damage done to the enamel and the gum, due to brushing the teeth. Several risk factors are involved in the damage.
1. Hard bristle toothbrush
Many people have the idea that to clean their teeth properly, they need a hard bristle brush. This is wrong because plaque is a soft biofilm of bacteria, and is easily removed with a soft bristle toothbrush. You don’t need too much force to remove plaque, gentle brushing with a soft brush is enough.
2. Toothbrush holding position
Most people hold the toothbrush, by pressing their thumb on the brush and holding the handle firmly with four fingers. This power grip applies too much pressure on the teeth and gum while brushing, and is a major factor causing dental abrasion.
3. Abrasive toothpaste
In addition to hard bristle toothbrushes and a forceful grip, most dental toothpaste also contain hard abrasive particles. Those abrasives act like sandpaper on teeth and gum. Over time, the damage can be serious.
What are the risks of toothbrush abrasion?
Toothbrush abrasion can eat away into both the enamel and the gum. Enamel is the hard protective shell around the teeth. and gum is the soft tissue that supports, feeds, and connects the teeth to the jaw bone.
Under the enamel is the dentin. Dentin is the more organic part of the teeth, with many sensitive nerves. When enamel gets thin, these nerve endings can get more sensitive. The sensitivity may cause pain while drinking something hot or cold, or brushing teeth or eating.
If the gum is damaged by abrasion, this causes receding gum line. More of the root of your teeth gets exposed, and the teeth feel loose, not having enough support.
Exposed root and dentin is more easily damaged, such as by tooth decay. All of these can be both painful and unsightly.
How can you clean your teeth without causing toothbrush abrasion?
Holistic dentist Dr. Derek Goldling suggests a whole new approach to tooth brushing, called toothtapping.
First, the design of the toothtapper is different than a regular toothbrush. The handle, made from bamboo, is designed for a three-finger grip, much like how you would hold a pen. This ensures both more precision and control over the toothtapper and gentle pressure on the teeth and gum.
Second, the bristle is soft, bio-degradable, and designed to work based on capillary action. The plaque sticks to the bristles just like how the paint sticks to the paintbrush.
Third, he suggests not using toothpaste at all. Saliva is the best natural mouthwash and there is no need for abrasives or toxic chemicals commonly used in the toothpaste formulas.
Lastly, the toothtapping technique is different than brushing the teeth.
First, you run the toothtapper on the gum line. This is to increase saliva production. Then, you tap the toothtapper in a back and forth motion, tapping each foot surface, and between the different crevices. Then you rinse with a little water.
That’s it, no toothpaste or mouthwash is necessary. However, if you like a minty fresh breath, you can use breathealer gel.
This is the safest and most effective way to clean your teeth without causing abrasion.