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Brushing gums too hard: Can You Brush Your Teeth Too Hard?

Are You Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard?

Brushing your teeth incorrectly can lead to problems like tooth sensitivity and enamel wear. Here’s the right way to do it.

By Lisa HaneyMedically Reviewed by Elizabeth V. Simpson, DMD


Medically Reviewed

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for a full two minutes twice a day, and be sure to relax your grip.Tatiana Maksimova/Getty Images

When it comes to brushing your teeth, there is such a thing as proper technique. Brushing too hard — or using the wrong toothbrush — can damage your teeth and gums, leading to problems like enamel wear and receding gums, which can in turn lead to tooth sensitivity, says Gene Romo, DDS, a dentist in Chicago.

“People tend to brush aggressively, thinking it’s the only way they can get their teeth to feel clean and look whiter,” Dr. Romo says. “That’s counterproductive, because not only does it cause recession of your gums, but you’re also wearing away the white, glossy enamel on your teeth, making them look yellow and darker.

Not sure if you’re brushing too hard? Take a look at your toothbrush. If you’ve been using it for three months or less, it should still appear relatively new. “If it looks beat-up and flat, that’s a sign you’re brushing way too hard,” Romo says.

The Proper Way to Brush Your Teeth

It will require some mindfulness, but you can change your hard-brushing ways, Romo says. Follow these proper-brushing tips and you’ll relieve tooth sensitivity and prevent damage to your teeth and gums.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Choose one with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal and replace it every three or four months — or sooner if it frays, according to the ADA. The size and shape of your toothbrush should fit your mouth well so you can reach all areas easily, adds the ADA.

Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. That way, the bristles can reach and clean underneath your gumline, Romo says.

Gently move the brush back and forth. Use short, tooth-wide strokes to clean the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of the teeth, the ADA recommends. To clean the inside surfaces of your front teeth, tilt your brush vertically and use up-and-down strokes. If you’re using an electric toothbrush, let it do all the work and just lightly glide it over your teeth instead of pushing it against them. To make sure you’re using a gentle grip, try holding your toothbrush in your nondominant hand.

Slow down. Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for two full minutes twice a day to prevent plaque and cavities, according to the ADA. “For people who have never tried it, it can feel like an eternity. You don’t really know what two minutes feels like until you actually brush that long,” Romo says. But when you’re not rushing to finish, it will keep you more mindful about brushing gently.

Choose the Right Toothpaste (and Floss)

It’s also important to use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste to help prevent cavities, per the ADA. Be sure to choose a toothpaste with the ADA seal, which means it has been tested and proven to contain enough fluoride to protect your teeth. You can find options on the ADA’s website.

To keep your mouth healthy and clean, the ADA also recommends the following tips:

  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
  • Floss once a day to remove tooth-decay-causing bacteria between the teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Limit sugary beverages and snacks and eat a balanced diet.
  • See your dentist regularly (at least once or twice a year, in some cases more) to prevent and treat oral disease.

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Signs Of Brushing Too Hard – What To Look For

Many people believe that by brushing their teeth hard, they are removing more plaque and food debris. However, this commonly made mistake can cause tooth damage and sensitivity.

Dentists recommend brushing twice a day, in the morning after breakfast and in the evening before bed. Two minutes is the recommended amount of time per brushing session, although millions of Americans fall short on time, which can leave behind plaque and food on the teeth.

Without proper brushing technique, you are more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease because of harmful oral bacteria that are responsible for eating away at enamel and gingival tissue.

If you’re up-to-date with your dental visits and you brush and floss regularly, you simply need to know, are you brushing correctly?

Brushing incorrectly is common for many reasons. The most common reason is people are unaware of the correct brushing technique or they fall short on the two minutes of daily recommended brushing. In fact, the average amount of time people brush for is only 45 seconds!

If you experience signs like pain from certain foods or sensitivity when you’re smiling or catch some cold air, you may be brushing too hard.

Signs you’re brushing too hard

There are numerous signs that you may be using your toothbrush a bit too rigorously. Sometimes there are clinical symptoms like sensitivity, and other signs may require a visual examination by a dentist.

  • Receding gums: When you brush too hard at the gumline, you may be brushing away your gum tissue to pull away from the tooth, revealing the root and subgingival tooth structure. This can lead to sensitivity, and over the long-term can even lead to gum disease.
  • Severe toothbrush wear: If you notice your toothbrush looks like it came out of your dog’s mouth, there is a good chance you’re brushing too hard. A toothbrush should ideally be changed every three months. If your bristles are worn away and misshapen, it may mean you’re putting too much pressure when brushing.
  • Tooth sensitivity: Brushing too hard can wear away enamel and reveal inner layers of the tooth like the dentin layer. Dentin has nerves in it, and when exposed to extreme temperature changes can be painful.
  • Dull teeth appearance: You may notice that your teeth don’t appear shiny and bright, and there is more of a darker, yellow hue. This can indicate that the darker dentin layer is showing through, and there is enamel wear from brushing too hard.
  • Tooth decay: Brushing too hard can wear away protective enamel and leave teeth more prone to developing cavities. Moon-shaped cavities are often seen at the gum line or on the root surface of people who brush too hard.

Brushing too hard is very harmful

Gum tissue should be looked at like gold because once you lose any gum tissue, you can’t get it back. While you cannot replace enamel tooth structure, a dental filling can help restore teeth from decay. Gum tissue that is worn away is not as easily replaceable as you would require a gum graft and surgery.

Overbrushing can leave you with extremely sensitive teeth, making it uncomfortable to eat or drink without pain.

You may not be able to whiten your teeth with bleaching gel because it would cause too much pain and sensitivity if you have enamel wear from brushing.

Since overbrushing can leave you with irreversible results, it is important to look at ways to prevent this habit. If you have already done some damage, maintenance is key.

Simple ways to prevent brushing too hard

There are some easy ways you can still maintain great oral health without damaging your teeth. Some great tips to keep your teeth healthy include:

  • Proper brushing technique: Proper brushing is one of the first things you need to learn so that you can adequately keep your teeth clean, but also safe. Brush at a 45-degree angle in tiny circles on each tooth surface. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing for a minimum of two minutes to remove all surface debris.
  • Use the right bristle toothbrush: Brushing with a medium or hard bristle brush is harmful to your teeth and gums because it is extremely abrasive. Instead, opt for a toothbrush with soft or extra-soft bristles.
  • Use an electric toothbrush with a built-in sensor: A manual brush with soft bristles or an electric toothbrush with a sensor that vibrates and alarms you if you brush too hard is a great way to reduce putting too much pressure on your teeth.
  • Monitor your brush: If you notice that your bristles are worn down and flat, it’s a sign you are brushing too hard. Keep an eye on your toothbrush wear and if you see it start to fray quickly, limit the pressure you’re using when brushing.
  • Use a non-abrasive toothpaste: Some toothpaste contain harsh, abrasive materials that can cause wear and tear on the teeth. Think of the very popular charcoal toothpaste commonly used for whitening, and it can cause enamel wear over time. Use a paste that is ADA approved and safe for your mouth.
  • Visit your dentist: Going for routine dental visits every six months is an important way to get a professional opinion on how your teeth look. Your dentist will monitor your teeth and gums to ensure they’re in top shape.

Treatment options for brushing too hard

Unfortunately, tooth structure and gum tissue do not grow back like hair or nails. But, if you have enamel wear or gum recession, you can speak with your dentist about treatment that can limit your symptoms.

Treatment often involves:

  • Dental fillings
  • Gum surgery
  • Silver diamine fluoride (SDF)
  • Scaling and root planing
  • Crowns and crown lengthening

Brushing your teeth seems like a simple task, and usually, it is! But, in the case you are brushing too hard, you may be doing more damage than good. The best thing you can do for your teeth is attending your dental appointments and discuss your brushing habits with your dentists and hygienist. This way, you’re on the right path to brushing correctly and establishing great oral care habits for life! For more questions contact the team at Caldwell, Bills, Petrilli & West & West today.

Why do gums bleed when brushing teeth


  • Main causes of bleeding gums when brushing
  • What to do with bleeding?
  • Prophylaxis

Main causes of gum bleeding during brushing

  • One of the most common causes of gum bleeding is bacteria and plaque that build up on the enamel of the teeth during the day. That is why it is so important not only to brush your teeth twice a day, but also to use mouthwash and floss after every meal.
  • Wrong toothbrush and brushing technique. If you use too hard bristles and put too much pressure on the gums, the soft tissues are damaged and bleeding occurs.
  • Inflammatory disease – periodontitis. Due to this disease, the soft tissues that connect the bone to the gum are destroyed. Also, the symptoms of periodontitis are: pain when pressing on the gums, increased sensitivity and bad breath.
  • Nutritional deficiencies and beriberi. Most often, in the presence of these problems, gum bleeding is seasonal and most often manifests itself in winter or spring.
  • Stomatitis. By itself, this disease will not cause bleeding, but during cleaning, you are likely to damage the resulting sores.
  • Poor blood clotting or blood thinning due to drugs or body pathologies.
  • Tartar formation. This problem occurs due to a systematic violation of oral hygiene, nutritional deficiencies, caffeine abuse and cigarette smoking. Hard plaque begins to build up on soft tissues, thereby causing bleeding

It is very important to understand that only a dentist can determine the exact cause of bleeding gums during brushing. To do this, you will need to pass a series of tests and possibly undergo an x-ray to identify inflammation and other possible pathologies. If you decide to self-medicate without making a diagnosis, you are likely to harm your body and only aggravate the situation.

What to do with bleeding?

Finding out that the gum is healthy is not difficult – it has a brown or pink tint, there should not be any wounds or scratches on it. In case of bleeding, swelling or something else, you need to seek help from a specialist. After all, the gums can also bleed for internal reasons; it certainly will not work to identify them on your own. After identifying the cause of the problem, an individual treatment plan is drawn up, which may include many therapeutic methods. Effective ways to get rid of bleeding gums when brushing your teeth at home:

  • Apply a cold compress to the site of bleeding, an ice cube wrapped in gauze is ideal;
  • Use available antiseptics, such as hydrogen peroxide, moisten a cotton swab and treat the gum;
  • It is worth noting that if there is a suspicion of an inflammatory disease, it is better not to self-medicate, as there is a risk of only worsening the situation.


In most cases, bleeding gums can be avoided by following fairly simple guidelines, which you can read below:

  • Use a soft toothbrush, do not injure your gums when brushing.
  • Get rid of bad habits, reduce coffee consumption.
  • Balanced diet and vitamin intake. Eat raw vegetables and fruits, they allow you to get rid of plaque and are rich in vitamins.
  • Regular oral hygiene. Use dental floss and mouthwash after every meal. Brush your teeth 2 times a day. Go to the dentist at least 2 times a year, in the absence of pathologies.
  • Choose your toothpaste together with your dentist. There are a large number of pastes with a therapeutic, healing effect. And do not use one paste for more than 4 months.

Possible causes of bleeding gums when brushing teeth


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  • Why do gums bleed when brushing teeth and what to do

Ksenchuk Mikhail Vasilyevich

General Director. Prosthodontist

Bleeding in the sink after brushing your teeth can be an accident, but if it happens regularly, contact your dentist immediately.

Causes of bleeding gums:

  • Tartar. If plaque is not removed regularly, it will turn into tartar and bacteria living in it – the cause of gingivitis. Bleeding while brushing your teeth is a symptom of gingivitis.
  • Brushing teeth too hard. A hard brush damages the gum and causes bleeding.
  • Vitamin deficiency. Vitamins affect the strength of the walls of blood vessels and blood clotting. With a lack of vitamins, the vascular walls become thinner, and bleeding causes even a slight effect on the tooth or gum.
  • Diabetes or pre-diabetic condition. This disease reduces the resistance of the gums to infections. Diabetics need to pay close attention to oral hygiene.
  • Pregnancy or use of certain hormonal contraceptives. Changes in the hormonal background affect the condition of the gums: they swell, become loose and less resistant to damage.
  • Rigid installation of prostheses. Dental dentures are a common cause of gingivitis. Hygiene procedures must be thorough and regular.
  • Internal diseases. Blood on the toothbrush is a symptom of internal diseases, such as bleeding disorders, gastritis, cirrhosis of the liver.
Is it possible to ignore bleeding gums

No. Even if you are sure that there are no internal violations, pink foam should not be ignored. Remember, if your gums bleed, only a dentist will recommend what to do, who will assess the condition of the oral cavity and prescribe treatment.

General recommendations for reducing bleeding gums:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for at least three minutes.
  • Replace the hard brush with a soft one.
  • Brush your teeth gently, do not brush against your gums.
  • Use a toothpaste with hemostatic and healing herbal ingredients.
  • Use a mouthwash with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agents.
Herbal ingredients with hemostatic properties.

For the prevention of gum disease, use rinses made from natural ingredients: oak bark, chamomile, fir – helping to reduce bleeding gums.

  • Oak bark – suppresses inflammation and the development of pathogenic microorganisms.
  • Chamomile gives an antibacterial effect, blocks the development of the inflammatory process.
  • Fir activates local oral immunity and improves protection against harmful bacteria.
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