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News: November 24, 2009

Aggressive Tooth Brushing The 1st Cause Of Tooth Pain

November 24, 2009

One in three dentists say that aggressive toothbrushing is the most common cause of sensitive teeth, according to a nationwide member survey conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Acidic food and beverage consumption was found to be the number two cause.

Sensitive teeth, or dentin hypersensitivity, is a common oral condition affecting approximately 40 million Americans of all ages. It is characterized by discomfort or sharp and sudden pain in one or more teeth and is often triggered by hot, cold, sweet or sour foods and drinks, pressure on the tooth, or even breathing cold air.

According to Van B. Haywood, DMD, aggressive toothbrushing and consuming acidic foods and beverages can lead to tooth sensitivity. This is because over time, they can wear down the enamel on your teeth and even your gums. "When the protective layer of enamel erodes or gum lines recede, a softer tissue in your teeth called dentin can be left exposed," explained Dr. Haywood. "Dentin connects to the tooth's inner nerve center, so when it is unprotected, the nerve center can be left unshielded and vulnerable to sensations, including pain."

While aggressive toothbrushing and acidic foods and beverages were found to be the most common causes of dentin hypersensitivity, the survey also revealed several other factors that can cause tooth erosion and contribute to the oral condition. These factors include certain toothpastes and mouthwashes, tooth whitening products, broken or cracked teeth, bulimia and acid reflux.

Out of the nearly 700 general dentists who responded to the survey, nearly 60 percent say that the frequency of tooth erosion has increased compared to five years ago. "Being able to detect tooth erosion in its early stages is perhaps the most important key to preventing dentin hypersensitivity," said Raymond K. Martin, DDS, MAGD. "Discoloration, transparency, and small dents or cracks in the teeth are all signs of tooth erosion and should be discussed with your dentist as soon as possible."

Fifty-six percent of dentists surveyed say that patients manage tooth sensitivity by avoiding cold foods and beverages. Another 17 percent say that patients avoid brushing the sensitive area of the mouth. "While these may seem like the quickest and easiest ways to prevent sensitivity, none of them will actually solve the problem," explained Gigi Meinecke, DMD, FAGD.

For those who are already affected by sensitive teeth, the AGD recommends these actions to help alleviate symptoms:


  • Switch to a desensitizing toothpaste - There are many brands of toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth.


  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush - When you use a hard-bristled toothbrush, you may be wearing away the enamel on your teeth or causing your gums to recede.


  • Practice good oral hygiene - Floss regularly and brush at least twice a day for two to three minutes. Hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle, brush gently in a circular motion, and hold the toothbrush in your fingertips rather than in the palm of your hand.


  • Avoid highly acidic foods and beverages - Make a conscious effort to limit your intake of highly acidic foods and beverages every day.

By AGD public relations department - media@agd.org. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) is a professional association of more than 35,000 general dentists dedicated to staying up to date in the profession through continuing education.



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