Softer is Better: The Dangers of Brushing Too Hard
by Dr. Michael Popp on Mar 27, 2015

When it comes to washing the dishes, scrubbing harder is always better to get food particles off of the plates and pots. And although we sometimes compare brushing our teeth to washing the dishes, there’s a few key differences – and one is that brushing hard doesn’t equal brushing better.

In fact, brushing our teeth too hard can do a lot of damage to our mouths; it can scratch the surface of teeth and brushing hard along the gum line can cause gums to recede.

Receding gums are almost always a permanent condition – the gum won’t grow back. Repeated hard brushing wears away at the top layer of the gums, which eventually is stripped away, exposing the neck of the tooth underneath. This part of the tooth doesn’t have a protective coating of enamel. When we brush against the neck of the tooth, it wears away eventually too, and is exposed to decay from bacteria. Further, the exposed area is sensitive to touch, sweet, hot and cold, and can cause significant pain. Lastly, receding gums don’t look good because the neck of the tooth is somewhat yellow, which takes away from the appearance of your pearly whites.

How can we avoid receding gums? Here are a few tips to keep gums healthy and avoid exposing the neck of the tooth:

  • use a soft-bristle toothbrush. The softer the brush, the less abrasive it will be on the gums and the tooth’s surface.
  • brush gently. You shouldn’t feel strain in your arm from using a lot of pressure to brush your teeth. The amount of pressure should be equal to just a light touch.
  • use circular motions, not back-and-forth. The upward motion when brushing in a circle helps get to hidden areas where plaque can build up.
  • change it up. To help remind yourself to change your brushing habits and start brushing more gently, every time you start brushing, start in a different place. Most of us use the same starting point every time.
  • get a new brush. Did you know you should change your toothbrush every three months? It’s true!


People with receding gums need to be conscious every time they brush to be very gentle to try stop further recession. There are few ways to remedy receding gums, including uncomfortable oral surgery.

At Marlborough Dental Centre in Calgary, our team of professionals are happy to show you and your children the proper way to brush your teeth, and the correct pressure to use when brushing in order to avoid receding gums. Stop by today or book an appointment by calling 403-248-2066 or click the Contact Us tab on the left.


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