Is There Such a Thing as Brushing Too Hard?

We’ve all heard that brushing haphazardly is an ineffective way to clean your teeth, but is there such a thing as brushing too hard? The short answer is, yes. Here’s what overzealous brushers need to know.

brushing too hard

It’s all about grip, speed, and pressure.

The grip, speed, and pressure you use when you brush your teeth matters. You shouldn’t grip your brush tightly, rather hold it firmly and gently. If you’re having difficulty remembering to ease up, try brushing slower. Use short, circular brush strokes, cleaning every side of each tooth, one tooth at a time versus using big, sweeping brush strokes to clean an entire row of teeth. Also, don’t press the toothbrush into your teeth. The bristles should be able to glide back and forth easily, like a broom sweeping the surface of your teeth, remembering that plaque is soft, and doesn’t need hard pressure to remove.

Brushing too hard can cause tooth sensitivity.

If you brush your teeth too vigorously, you could be causing longterm damage to your teeth. “Brushing too hard…can damage your teeth and gums, leading to problems like enamel wear and receding gums, which can in turn lead to tooth sensitivity, says Gene Romo, DDS, a Chicago-based dentist and consumer advisor for the American Dental Association (ADA).” (Source: This is why it’s so critical to brush your teeth gently and slowly. You don’t want to wear away the enamel or cause your gums to recede; you simply want to brush away food particles.

So often our rigorous brushing can be blamed on our hurry to check this task off of our list. But brushing your teeth is a self-care routine, similar to a bubble bath or getting a massage. You are taking care of yourself every time you brush! So slow down and ease up. Try listening to a podcast or relaxing music to help you remember to brush more softly and slowly. Your teeth will thank you.