While dentists recommend that you should clean your teeth at least twice a day, bad technique and/or a hard toothbrush can also cause harm. Dental abrasion is the term dentists give to the damage that you can cause to your teeth and gums by using a toothbrush too forcibly. Learn more about the causes and symptoms of dental abrasion, and find out what treatment options are available.
Understanding why people damage their teeth in this way
Dental abrasion is often a symptom of somebody who is over-zealous while cleaning his or her teeth. What's more, dentists sometimes see dental abrasion in patients who suffer from dental anxiety. In these cases, people literally scrub their teeth too hard, too often or both because they think they can avoid a trip to the dentist. Of course, ironically, if dental abrasion is too serious, the damage caused can often lead to dental treatment.
Some studies suggest that it is toothpaste that causes dental abrasion, especially if people use whitening toothpastes. These products are often more abrasive than other brands, as this property boosts the paste's whitening effect. As such, some people may suffer from the condition because of the toothpaste brand they use.
Vigorous brushing can cause various symptoms. These include:
Tooth discolouration around the gum line, due to worn enamel.
Tooth sensitivity when you eat or drink hot or cold things.
Left untreated, dental abrasion can eventually lead to tooth loss, where holes form in the affected teeth. When these holes allow decay to develop, the structural damage may render the tooth useless.
The treatment you need to have will vary according to the severity of the problem. For example, minor gum damage may heal on its own if you leave the tissue alone. Similarly, your dentist may recommend a special type of toothpaste to make your teeth less sensitive for milder cases of sensitivity.
For more serious damage, your dentist may recommend that you have surgery. For severe gum recession, surgery can reposition the tissue, giving your teeth the protection they need once again and improving the appearance of your smile.
In all cases, your dentist will also talk to you about your brushing technique. You may need to switch to a brush with softer bristles, and you will also need to make sure you don't apply excessive pressure while cleaning your teeth. Some people even opt to give up using toothpaste. A toothbrush dipped in mouthwash is often just as effective.
Dental abrasion is a relatively common problem that occurs when people clean their tooth too aggressively and/or too often. Talk to your dentist for more information and advice about how to deal with this issue.