19 June 2009

Too much brushing harms

If you're a bit too enthusiastic when brushing your teeth, you could be doing more harm than good.

If you're a bit too enthusiastic when brushing your teeth, you could be doing more harm than good.

Brushing your teeth longer and harder than is necessary may not be making your teeth any cleaner and could be causing permanent damage, says a study by researchers at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Removal of bacteria only up to a point
They found that when people using an electric toothbrush increased the length of their brushing and the amount of pressure they applied to their teeth, removal of harmful bacteria only improved up to a point.

That type of aggressive brushing increased the risk of oral health problems including abrasion of tooth enamel or gums.

While the 12 people in this study used an electric toothbrush, the researchers say the same findings hold true for people using ordinary toothbrushes.

How the research was conducted
For this study, the electric toothbrush was wired into a computer that measured the length of time people brushed and the amount of pressure they applied while brushing. The researchers examined 16 combinations of brushing times (30, 60, 120 and 180 seconds) and pressure (75, 150, 225 and 300 grams).

The researchers found that when people brushed for longer than two minutes, at a pressure greater than 150 grams, they weren't removing any additional plaque from their teeth.

The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Ask your dentist to train you
While it's easy to time how long you brush your teeth, the researchers say it's virtually impossible to gauge how much pressure you're applying to your teeth and gums.

"If you are unsure how to go about brushing your teeth, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your dentist or dental hygienist who will be able to train you in the correct technique and will show you approximately how much pressure you should be applying," research team leader Peter Heasman says in a news release. – (HealthDayNews)

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