Brushing regularly is important. But is brushing too much harmful? It can be! Especially if the way you brush and the brush you use are wrong or if you brush for too long. Brushing too hard and too often can damage the gums and teeth. The gums can recede exposing the roots and the cementum (layer covering the roots) can get worn off. Meanwhile, on the tooth, the enamel and sometimes dentin (layer under enamel) can wear off causing grooves or notches near the gum line on the teeth. This is called as toothbrush or cervical abrasion. These can be felt when the tongue is run over the teeth.
Toothbrush abrasion does not reverse or heal on its own and can lead to sensitive or painful teeth. They have to be treated with fillings or root canal treatment if deep. These areas without enamel can easily become decayed. If left untreated, the tooth might have to be extracted. Sometimes the gums recede too much, and you might need to see a periodontist or a gum specialist.
Using the wrong bristled toothbrush causes excessive forces on teeth. Only soft or ultrasoft toothbrushes have to be used. Brushing is only done to remove the food debris on and between teeth. Teeth should not be scrubbed horizontally in a sawing motion with the toothbrush. Soft circular motions need to be used with light pressure. Brushing should last only as long as 2 minutes. Using abrasives like salt or baking soda to brush can also lead to wear of enamel. Your dentist can teach you the right way to brush.