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Anxiety when brushing teeth



Dec 27, 2019
Hi! Happy new year!

I have found myself in a weird situation... a couple months ago I’ve had my first cleaning done. The lady was super nice and I told her about my fear of overbrushing (and how I’m sometimes afraid of brushing my teeth) so she told me to keep using my electric tooth brush - but here comes my problem. Before I went to get my cleaning done, I was able to do the recommended two minutes (my brush vibrates to signal me to move on and when the 2 minutes have passed) but my teeth never felt clean and I could always feel some plaque on them so the hygienist told me to brush until there’s no plaque on them even if it takes me a bit more than 2 minutes.
I’m scared of brushing away my enamel like my father did and I told her about that fear but she said my enamel is completely fine and to not be afraid of brushing.
The thing is, lately I spend way more than two minutes on brushing. I spend 2 minutes on the upper teeth and 2 on the lower teeth. Sometimes more because I’m extra careful on my wisdom teeth. And don’t even get me started on my front teeth - I’ve had stains on them and now I’m scared to brush and I’m scared to not brush them so I just end up being either too gentle (basically not even touching the brush to my teeth) and spend more time on them to get the plaque off, or I do it quickly and then spend forever worrying that I’ve damaged my enamel and there’s gonna be gum recession.
I’m scared brushing for as long as I do is bad and I’m gonna brush away nothing else but my enamel. I’m paranoid so I hold my brush as gently as I can but it doesn’t have a sensor so I don’t know if I’m still pressing too hard or not.

I know I tend to overthink things but I worry about my teeth A LOT. I dread brushing my teeth SO much and it’s all because of this fear that I’m damaging my teeth surface. :(
Hi there,

first of all, I was wondering whether your father used electric tooth brush. Because I suspect they haven't been around back then. This is how overbrushing in the older generations work: you get a HARD toothbrush because you think the harder the better (and there is no dental cleaning back then and people go to the dentist only when they are in pain, so nobody can teach you that soft bristles are better) and then you just do a monotone movement from feft to rigt (because that's how you believe it's done and again there are no kind caring dental hygienists who can teach you better). Later you learn that you should do circles so you do circles (also wrong with a manual tooth brush, but again, where are you supposed to learn it right?).

Put it shortly, if you use an electric toothbrush, you will never be able to do that damage to your enamel, that your father did to his. Except you use sand instead of a toothpaste, then maybe you may.

My friends who are dental nurses and hygienists all brush their teeth more than two minutes. There is no way to manage it quickly. You can see the two minutes as the bare minimum for people who don't want to be too thorough. The math is simple: you have 32 teeth (ok, lets imagine your wisdoms are out, then 28) and you have two minutes. That's one minute for upper and one minute for lower. Every tooth has a front side and a back side and the side you use to chew on. So that's three sides per tooth. that would be about twenty seconds for each side, which makes about 1,4 seconds per tooth. That's a marathon and not brushing. I describe a story linked to this here.

Hope that helped to convince you a bit. If you are afraid of putting too much pressure, there are electric toothbrushes with a pressure sensor: if you press too much, they stop. :)
Thank you so much for replying. You put things into perspective for me. I’ve been trying to cut down some time while still making sure my teeth are properly cleaned.

I use an electronic toothbrush in the evening and a ultra soft bristle manual in the morning. It helps ease my anxiety but as you can see, I still struggle a lot.

I think you can very obviously tell that I’m most anxious about damaging my tooth enamel. Once the anxiety about brushing calmed down, I’m now hyper analysing my flossing. I floss once everyday. I use those flosser things with a handle and all. I think I floss too hard? I do press down a little to get the food and plaque off my teeth. Particularly front teeth (surprise, surprise). I use floss to get as much plaque off as possible, not only between teeth but gumline and hard to reach spots (my upper front teeth are close together and a bit crooked so cleaning those spots is HARD). Do you think I’m gonna damage my teeth with floss? I do press down, probably too much. Gosh, this is stressing me out so much. I feel like I’m overanalysing and clinging to every single thing. Why can’t I just floss between my teeth like a normal person? Why do I have to make it so hard on myself? ?