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Don't overbrush your teeth, say dentists

We’re encouraged to brush twice a day – but over-brushing can lead to sensitive teeth, dentists said today.
Aug 20th 2012, 4:09 PM 9,892 14

DO YOU SUFFER from sensitive teeth?

According to Irish dentists, you may be over-brushing.

Dentists always advise to brush twice a day for two minutes, but now the Irish Dental Association is warning that people with tooth sensitivity should take care not to over-brush their teeth.

Around one in five Irish people suffer from sensitive teeth – and the number is rising, said the association.

Dublin-based dentist Dr Ray McCarthy said the most common cause of tooth sensitivity is gum recession, often due to vigorous or heavy handed brushing.

Our gums are like blankets which protect the roots of the teeth. If this protective layer is worn away the roots which are linked directly to the nerve become exposed and painful. However if patients suffering from the condition follow an effective but safe oral hygiene routine, the sensitivity can be cleared in a matter of weeks.

Other causes of sensitive teeth include eating acidic food, gum disease/recession and tooth whitening. You can experience pain when the enamel which protects the teeth is worn away, exposing the inner substance of the tooth which is called dentine.

Advice

Dr McCarthy advises people with sensitive teeth to:

  • Set aside two to three minutes twice a day to properly brush and floss all tooth surfaces
  • Reduce pressure while brushing and use a soft or medium bristled tooth brush
  • Not brush their teeth for one hour after consuming acidic drinks or foodstuffs
  • Use less abrasive or desensitising toothpastes, or mouth-rinses on the advice of your dentist
  • Consult your dentist if symptoms persist

According to a recent survey by Seapoint Clinic, 35 per cent of Irish people have broken or missing teeth, with a quarter of them blaming this on bad childhood habits.

Read: Smile! One third of Irish people have broken or missing teeth>

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Aoife Barry

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