When you look at your teeth in the mirror do you see notches near the gum line? Do you notice that there is a groove in the area where tooth meets gum? If you do see something out of the ordinary, you could have toothbrush abrasion and you will need to take care of it before it gets worse.
What is toothbrush abrasion?
As mentioned above, toothbrush abrasion looks like there is a pocket or groove in the area where the tooth and gum meet. Toothbrush abrasion is usually found near the gum line and you may even be able to feel the groove when you run your tongue over your teeth. Toothbrush abrasion is unfortunately very common in adults because we don’t always brush our teeth the way we should. When we brush too roughly or with the wrong type of toothbrush, we are impacting the health of our teeth and gums.
What causes abrasion?
If you use a toothbrush with hard bristles, you are subjecting your teeth and gums to excess forces that they don’t need. Hard bristles are not effective at removing plaque and food debris from the teeth and actually do more harm than good. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush gently. Violent brushing is too hard on your teeth and causes the gum tissue to become damaged. You will also experience sensitivity to hot and cold foods/beverages.
Another cause of toothbrush abrasion is improper brushing technique. Remember that you are cleaning your teeth, not sanding them down like a piece of wood. Furthermore, people who overbrush are more likely to see toothbrush abrasion than those who brush the required amount. The Canadian Dental Association says you should be brushing twice a day, once when you wake up and once before bed. Brushing any more than that can lead to abrasion and enamel wear and tear.
Can your dentist fix toothbrush abrasion?
Your dentist cannot cure you of the damage done by toothbrush abrasion but they can help fix the problem. Your dentist may fill the groove that has formed where the tooth meets gum by using a porcelain filling. This filling will patch up the pocket and keep bacteria and food debris from entering it. However, if you do not keep up with your oral hygiene after the filling is put in, you are still at risk for tooth decay and cavities. If toothbrush abrasion is too severe because gum tissue has been lost, your dentist will refer you to a specialist called a periodontist. A periodontist is a gum doctor who can graft or reposition your gums so that they cover the groove.
What you can do at home
Your dentist will discuss at-home techniques you can do to deal with and prevent further toothbrush abrasion. One of the more important things you can do at home is use the proper brushing technique. (We have outlined this technique below.) You should, as mentioned above, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush your teeth gently. Furthermore, if you eat acidic foods, rinse your mouth out after you’ve eaten. Foods that are high in acid lead to weakened tooth enamel and their residue can stay on your teeth for up to half an hour. The weaker your enamel, the harder you may want to brush your teeth which will lead to more abrasion.
What happens if abrasion is not corrected?
Toothbrush abrasion will continue if you do not stop brushing your teeth too hard. After a while, your gums will recede permanently. Once gums recede, they do not grow back and the roots of the damaged tooth become exposed. Root damage occurs and deep grooves form, leaving your gums and teeth vulnerable to bacteria that cause tooth decay.
How to properly brush your teeth
To avoid further toothbrush abrasion, it’s important to brush your teeth for 2-4 minutes the way the Canadian Dental Association recommends. Here’s how:
Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth. When you hold your toothbrush in this manner, you have better control of how much pressure you put on your teeth. You don’t need to push too hard while brushing. The bristles of the toothbrush are designed to remove food debris and plaque with little effort.
Don’t scrub your teeth. Instead, use gentle circles and move the toothbrush over the surface, the back and underside of each tooth.
Brush your tongue and cheeks lightly to remove any bacteria and food debris that may be caught there.
Toothbrush abrasion is serious if you don’t take care of it early. Please contact Dawson Dental for more information or to book your appointment. We’ll help you stay on top of your oral health so that your overall health doesn’t suffer.