If you have sensitive teeth, brushing too hard or using the wrong toothbrush altogether can make symptoms worse. Learn the proper technique for brushing your teeth.

When it comes to brushing your teeth, there is such a thing as proper technique. Brushing too hard- or using the wrong toothbrush- can damage your teeth and gums, leading to problems like enamel wear and receding gums, which can, in turn, lead to tooth sensitivity.

People tend to brush aggressively, thinking it’s the only way they can get their teeth to feel clean and look whiter. That’s counterproductive, because not only does it cause recession of your gums, but you're also wearing away the white, glossy enamel on your teeth, making them look yellow and darker. And when that happens, you’re putting yourself at risk for developing sensitive teeth.

Not sure if you’re brushing too hard? Take a look at your toothbrush. If you’ve been using it for three months or less, it should still appear relatively new. If it looks beat up and flat, that’s a sign you're brushing way too hard.

The proper way to brush your teeth:

Follow these tips to brush properly to help relieve tooth sensitivity and prevent damage to your teeth and gums:

1. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and choose one with the ADA seal and replace it every three months- or sooner if it frays.

2. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums-that way, the bristles can reach and clean underneath your gumline.

3. Gently move the brush back and forth-Use short, tooth-wide strokes to clean the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of the teeth, the ADA recommends. (If you have a lot of gum recession, your dentist may recommend you try the roll technique instead.

4. Slow down: Dentists recommend that you brush for two full minutes- 30 seconds in each quadrant of your mouth and twice a day. Use the timer on your phone or choose an electric toothbrush that alerts you every 30 seconds.

Sticking with these tips can help you keep your teeth clean and your mouth healthy while eliminating symptoms of tooth sensitivity.