Take the 2-minute tour ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've heard that brushing your teeth too often (usually stated as more than 3 times per day) will cause the enamel on your teeth to become damaged or wear away, is this possible?

Example 1:

the abrasives found in just some of the toothpastes available are the things that wear down the enamel coating your teeth.Once the enamel is broken down....teeth rot

Example 2 (A study of 12 people over four weeks, not very convincing):

A study by researchers at Newcastle University say there is little evidence to show that longer and harder brushing makes teeth cleaner.

In fact, they found that it increases the risks of permanently damaging the protective layer on teeth and harming gums.

They suggest that people should brush their teeth for two minutes and apply pressure equivalent to the weight of an orange at 150 grams.

Those recommendations are based on a study of 12 people over four week

share|improve this question
    
is it possible? yes, of course. All depends on your toothpaste and brushes used. Especially that "special whitening" stuff indeed contains abrasives (even mentions it on the packaging). Try taking scouring powder to an enameled cooking pot with a hard brush and see what happens over time, the enamel becomes scratched and eventually can completely disappear. –  jwenting Jul 5 '11 at 6:37
1  
If you brush the wrong way certainly, even with less times per day. –  Martin Scharrer Jul 5 '11 at 7:43
add comment

2 Answers

According to the American Dental Association, brushing your teeth too much seems to result in problems not with your teeth, but with your gums (for example receding gums that can lead to tooth sensitivity. Here is the sensitive teeth link.

They also recommend brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. The Mayo Clinic also recommends that if you eat or drink something that you know is acidic you should wait 30 minutes before brushing because you might damage the tooth enamel.

share|improve this answer
    
I can confirm the existence of this gum-receding problem that is caused by excessive brushing. In theory, you could brush delicately && precisely enough to avoid rubbing your gums with your brush – in practice people aren't aware enough to it until they experience gum recession. –  New Alexandria Sep 30 '12 at 19:15
add comment

The direction of brushing matters. Brushing horizontally with a stiff brush can lead to a horizontal scoring at the gum line, thinning the enamel there. Electric toothbrushes generally have rotating heads so their fast motion cannot do this, but a strong horizontal brusher using a stiff bristle brush can do this inadvertently.

Correct brushing is primarily composed vertical strokes, away from the gum line. Horizontal strokes should be angled to the gum line [1].

The gums can also be damaged from excessive friction [2].

I could find no good evidence that the abrasive in ordinary toothpaste erodes tooth enamel.

[1] http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/brushing-teeth-mistakes?page=2

[2] http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1076089

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.