BRUSH (1)Have you ever noticed your gums are “shrinking away from the teeth”? Do you ever feel like your toothbrush keeps fraying away even though it has been less than three months since you’ve changed to a new one? It is best to visit your local dentist to monitor the condition of your teeth and confirm the cause of this, however there is a possibility that you’ve been brushing too excessively with your toothbrush.

Toothbrush abrasion occurs as a result of overzealous brushing causing the gums to be pushed back and exposing the root surfaces of the teeth. Without this protective barrier of gum around the root surface, sensitivity is a common symptom associated with this. Sometimes the damage from excessive toothbrushing may manifest as “V-shaped” notches on the teeth which may require tooth-coloured fillings if they advance. The best way to address toothbrush abrasion is to modify toothbrushing technique.

It is best to use a soft-bristled toothbrush with small, circular motions as opposed to a side-to-side brushing motion. Point the toothbrush bristles at a 45 degree angle toward the gum line so that the gum is cleaned as well as the teeth. If you can see the toothbrush bristles splaying outwards, you are pushing too hard. You only need to brush for two minutes twice a day, and no longer, ensuring all the surfaces have been addressed.

There are electric toothbrushes with pressure sensors designed to “light up” in red when placed on the gums too hard and this can be a great alternative to manual toothbrushing for patients who have toothbrush abrasion. If you are concerned that you may have toothbrush abrasion, visit your local dentist as this condition is very manageable and your dentist will be able to advise you the best way to manage this, which may include behaviour modification with toothbrushing technique.