Are you brushing your teeth too hard? Here are the signs

Published on 04 Mar 2022


Take care of your oral health by learning the right teeth brushing techniques

Brushing your teeth harder does not always give whiter and healthier teeth. In fact, it’s possible to overdo it. Celebrate World Oral Health Day with us, as we share tips on how to spot the signs of over-brushing. Be sure to read on for good habits you can adopt as part of your daily routine!

How to tell if you’ve been brushing too hard

When it comes to cleaning your teeth, harder isn’t always better. In fact, overly frequent and aggressive brushing can lead to more oral health problems like gum recession, cavities, and premature enamel wear.

Here are signs that you've been brushing too hard:

Your new toothbrush frays within weeks, even days

A sure way to know you’re brushing too hard is to check the wear and tear on your new toothbrush bristles. The average lifespan of a toothbrush is three months. If your toothbrush is fraying way ahead of schedule, there’s a good chance you’re overbrushing.

Your gum line is receding

Notice a change in your gum line? Vigorous brushing over a long period of time can cause gums to recede, exposing the darker, underlying root surfaces of your teeth. One of the easiest ways to check for receding gums is to look out for changing appearances, like teeth that appear longer, or yellower near the gum tissue.

Tooth sensitivity sets in

If biting into cold or hot foods causes dental discomfort, your protective enamel and gums are probably worn out. Sensitive teeth have exposed nerve endings, and are more vulnerable to stimuli.

Gums bleed when you brush

Bleeding gums are one of the most common signs of aggressive brushing and should not be ignored. It's not normal for your gums to bleed every time you brush, and could also be an indicator of gum disease and poor overall dental health.

Teeth look dull and discoloured

The enamel on your teeth is what gives them their natural shine. If your teeth are starting to look duller and yellowish, the culprit might be enamel erosion caused by excessive brushing. White spots may also appear due to mineral loss.

Good oral care begins with everyday habits


Dentists recommend brushing twice a day for about 2 minutes each time.

It may take some practice, but you can change your hard-brushing ways. Adopt these 8 dental care tips to help you achieve better oral health:

Brush your teeth twice a day, in the morning and at night before you sleep. Be mindful not to rush and spend at least two minutes each time brushing your teeth and gums. You may play a two-minute song or set the timer on your phone to help you keep track.

Floss daily to remove food debris, plaque and bacteria in between your teeth. Keep in mind to floss before you brush, so that particles released during flossing are removed by the brushing action.

Wait at least 30-60 minutes after a meal to brush your teeth. Food increases acidity in your mouth and weakens the enamel. Brushing immediately after eating can lead to faster wear-and-tear of the teeth. If you can’t avoid it, rinse your mouth with water before brushing.

Spit, don't rinse away the toothpaste in your mouth after brushing. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to brush with, and simply spit it out to allow the fluoride to continue strengthening the teeth against cavities². If you prefer to rinse your mouth with water after brushing your teeth, follow up with fluoride mouthwash.

Visit a dentist twice a year to address any dental problems early, especially if you have an existing condition, such as diabetes, that increases your risk of oral health issues1. Also, you can’t remove tartar with aggressive brushing, so leave the deep cleaning to the professionals.

Use the proper brushing technique.

  • To make sure you’re using a gentle grip, try holding your toothbrush like a pen.
  • Place your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums, so the bristles can reach between teeth and underneath your gum line to remove plaque.
  • Brush gently in a short, vertical, or circular motion. Avoid brushing horizontally across your gum line; brush instead at an angle to your teeth, to prevent gum damage.
  • Clean the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of your teeth. Don’t forget to also brush the surface of your tongue!

Choose a suitable toothbrush

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush which is gentle on the gums. Replace your toothbrush every three months, or when it frays.
  • If you wear braces, consider getting a special orthodontic toothbrush that comes with V-shaped bristles. It’s designed to clean around the wires and braces.
  • Children are advised to use a child-sized toothbrush, so it fits comfortably in their mouth and hand. Pick one with a thicker handle and a rubber grip that enables sturdier control.
  • Electric toothbrushes are especially useful for people who find the motion of using manual toothbrushes difficult. Patients living with Parkinson's, stroke or even arthritis, may have difficulty with using their hands and can find electric toothbrushes helpful.


Prevention is always the best medicine, so learning the correct brushing technique is an excellent first step to take.

Need to see a dentist?

Call NTUC Health Denticare at 6336 6222 or drop us an enquiry for scaling, polishing and teeth whitening services at affordable rates.

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