How The Traditional Nylon Toothbrush May Be Causing Your Gums To Disappear

Because of the scare tactics, including graphic images of bad teeth, many have been pushed into over-brushing.
07/23/2016 12:44 pm ET Updated Jul 26, 2016

 

 

Blaz Kure via Getty Images

From the time you were little, you have probably been told to brush your teeth. it is an important habit for children and adults alike. But it is possible to brush your teeth too much and too hard.

I know it is hard to believe that caring for your teeth can damage them, but millions of people each year set themselves up for gum disease. The first problem with brushing is that many people do it improperly, too abrasively, and too often. They wear away the thin enamel of the teeth and erode the gums. This also causes the bone under the gums to disappear and the roots to become exposed. This can result in sensitivity and root decay to take hold.

Without realizing it, people also brush without actually cleaning the area where most disease originates in the teeth. While you might not believe periodontal (gum) disease is waging a slow war on your body, more than 75% of adults over the age of 35 show some degree of signs and symptoms. In fact, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults around the world.

Additionally, recent studies shown a possible link between gum disease and a number of other afflictions in the body, including diabetes and heart disease. These studies theorize that bacteria in the mouth, a cause of gum disease, can travel through the bloodstream. Bacteria can contribute to clot formation and the narrowing of the arteries.  

The bottom line is that people brush without cleaning the area where most disease originates. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwashes do not get in between the teeth, no matter what they advertise. Only floss or other interdental devices can break up the plaque nests between the teeth.

Over the course of my 40-year career in dentistry and periodontics, I have seen a recurring theme in how gum disease develops. Traditional thought has taught us to understand  that poor oral hygiene is the first major contributor to gum disease. However because of the scare tactics associated with this idea, including graphic images of bad teeth, many have been pushed into over-brushing. As a result, people are damaging their healthy teeth and gums.

There is such a thing as over-brushing with a nylon toothbrush, which can result in your gums disappearing which is known as  gum recession. Each year, an estimated 24 million people suffer from what the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry has labeled as “toothbrush disease.” The term means gingival recession and wear of the root surface caused by over-brushing, which contributes to receding gums and hypersensitivity of the teeth. It is the reason dentists have moved from recommending hard-bristled toothbrushes to soft-bristled.

The effects of overaggressive brushing lead to reduced enamel and a receding gum line. Gum disease can set in. As the teeth become more sensitive and the gums recede, plaque gets into tougher to get to areas of the mouth.

What most people do not realize about their toothbrush: 

Your tooth enamel and gums are extremely thin. Tooth enamel is actually about the thickness of an egg shell, while gums are merely paper-thin. 

Due to the fragility, brushing too hard can break down tooth enamel and wear away gums. If you’ve experienced sensitive teeth, it could very well be due to gum recession, which can lead to bone loss and sensitivity.

To clean their teeth, millions of people are brushing their gums away without even knowing it—causing damage to their tooth enamel and gums in the process.

Plaque is as soft as yogurt. There is no need to do harm to the teeth and gums to remove plaque. Car finishes are treated more gently. 

It is not my aim to scare you away from the toothbrush you currently use.

As a medical professional, my first duty is to educate my patients, so that you understand your body, the actions you take and how those actions affect your overall health. Be smart and take control of your dental health today!

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