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Brushing gums too hard: The Harmful Effects of Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard

The Harmful Effects of Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard

(203) 575-9097

26 Lakeside Blvd E
Waterbury, CT 06708

June 9, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmarini @ 6:06 pm

Are you serious about protecting oral hygiene? You may diligently use a mouthwash, floss once a day, and brush twice a day. You certainly deserve commendation for your good habits! However, there are cases in which individuals have become too enthusiastic about oral hygiene; they may apply too much pressure when they brush their teeth. A dentist in Waterbury is here to explain how overaggressive brushing can harm your smile and how you can apply proper brushing technique.

What Happens if You Brush Too Hard?

Brushing your teeth too hard can have two devastating consequences for your oral health:

  • Premature wear and tear. Tooth enamel is very hard — in fact, it is the hardest substance in the human body. However, it can get worn away by overaggressive brushing. Applying too much pressure may slowly erode your enamel, which cannot repair itself once it suffers significant damage. You may experience increased dental sensitivity and a heightened risk of cavities.
  • Gum recession. Brushing too hard can cause the gum tissue to shrink back. Not only will this affect the way your smile looks, but if the recession progresses far enough, the roots of your teeth may become exposed. Tooth roots are much more sensitive to outside stimuli and may be more prone to decay than the top portion of teeth because they have no enamel to protect them.

Proper Brushing Technique

If your toothbrush bristles become frayed very quickly, or your gums are often sore after your brush, there is a good chance that you are applying too much pressure. Here are some tips to help you properly clean your teeth:

  • Make sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle against your teeth and use short, tooth-wide strokes.
  • You should feel the bristles against your gums, but you should never “smash” them down.
  • Holding your toothbrush in your non-dominant hand may help you to lighten up on the amount of pressure you apply.
  • If you use an electric toothbrush, you do not have to press it hard against your teeth; just make sure it makes contact with them.
  • The next time you receive a professional dental service, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for tips on how you can improve your at-home oral hygiene routine. They will be happy to give you some pointers.

Your toothbrush is one of your best friends in your efforts to maintain sound oral health… but only if you use it properly. Use the above tips to make sure you are being gentle on your smile.

About the Author

Dr. Luciano Marini is the leader of our team at Waterbury Smiles. He is a Waterbury native and has been in private practice since 1986. He provides a broad range of treatments, from preventive care to complex procedures. If you would like Dr. Marini’s help to improve or maintain your oral health, or if you would like to learn more about our practice, contact our team at 203-575-9097.

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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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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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