The Way You Brush Your Teeth Is Probably Causing Your Gums to Recede

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The Way You Brush Your Teeth Is Probably Causing Your Gums to Recede featured image
Photo Credits: Photo by Rafa Elias/ Getty Images | Image Used for Illustrative Purposes Only

Since as long as we can remember, brushing our teeth has been second nature, and for the most part (aside from toothbrushes evolving), nothing has changed—brush in a back and forth motion, rinse, repeat in a few hours. But what if we told you what you’ve been doing for decades has been eroding your teeth and causing damage without you even knowing?

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In his video, “How to Brush Your Teeth the Right Way,” dentist Mark Burhenne, DDS, explains that brushing your teeth back and forth—almost in a sawing motion—will cause the enamel on your teeth to erode while also increasing the likelihood of your teeth becoming sensitive to hot and cold foods and liquids. Further, this back and forth motion also chips away at the base of your teeth, while overbrushing can also increase your chances of developing cavities and receding gums.

The reason for this, Dr. Burhenne explains, is that when the bristles move in a back and forth motion, they bounce of the surface of the teeth, rather than getting between them. The solution? San Francisco cosmetic dentist Swati Agarwal, DDS says that using small circular motions with your brush in the direction of your gum growth is the best way to brush, adding that placing your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle where the teeth meet the gums is key. Once angled, keep the bristles there—instead of moving them back and forth, use a vibrating motion to slightly move over to the next tooth, ensuring food and plaque are removed with low impact.

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