Internet Explorer is not supported for this application. For the best experience, use a supported browser such as Firefox, Safari, Chrome or Edge.

Brushing Harder Isn't Better

You could be harming your mouth.

Your teeth are sensitive

When you have a tough stain at home you can't get out, what do you do? You add soap and brush harder. That approach might work for home cleaning but the same doesn't apply when it comes to brushing your teeth. Your teeth are unlike any material in your home.

They're tough on the outside thanks to their enamel coating. Enamel is the white part of our teeth that we want to shine, which is made of calcium phosphate, a hard type of mineral. But underneath that layer? That's made up of various types of sensitive tissue, nerves and blood vessels.

The impacts of brushing too hard

Excessive or forceful brushing can lead to your enamel being worn down, exposing your tooth nerves and causing sensitive teeth. Sensitive teeth is a condition where the nerves in your teeth are easily irritated by pressure and hot and cold temperatures. Common triggers include things like coffee, ice cream, soup and cold air. At least 40 million adults in the U.S. are affected by sensitive teeth.

You don't need to press hard or move too fast brushing your teeth. All that's needed is some slight pressure to the bristles so they slightly bend. Gently move the brush in a circular motion. Time is your friend here, not how hard you brush. Brushing gently for two minutes and dedicating time to each tooth will give your toothbrush plenty of time to remove any plaque.

Pay attention to the bristles

Did you know that toothbrushes come with different types of bristles? Next time you need to replace your toothbrush (typically after three or four months of use) pay attention to the labels at the store. Generally, you'll find toothbrushes with bristles being labeled as 'soft,' 'medium' or 'hard.'

For most people, a soft bristled toothbrush will be the safest choice for your teeth. If you're someone who tends to brush harder, harder bristles may wear down your enamel faster and lead to sensitive teeth. Soft-bristled toothbrushes are especially important for older adults. As we age, our gums recede, and the roots of our teeth become exposed. This makes you more at risk for developing sensitive teeth because the root isn't as tough as your enamel.

Your dentist knows best

Everyone's oral health is different. Talk with your dentist about your brushing habits and if you're noticing any signs of tooth sensitivity. Remember that preventive care is covered when visiting in-network providers. If you need to find a dentist in our network, you can find one using our Find a Provider tool.