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News / June 17, 2008

One in five adults suffering from sensitive teeth

by Guy Hiscott

Figures from the Irish Dental Association (IDA) have revealed that almost one in five adults suffer from tooth sensitivity.

The results also show that 70% of dentists believe that incidences of sensitive teeth are increasing and 65% warn that it is a serious oral health problem among Irish adults.

The representative association of Irish dentists revealed that a survey of 150 Irish dentists, in association with GlaxoSmithKline, found a rise in the number of people attending dental surgeries with varying degrees of tooth sensitivity. The survey found that over half of dentists surveyed (53%) now treat patients with sensitive teeth on a daily basis, which has increased by 7% since 2002.

The IDA warned that tooth sensitivity can be associated with receding gums; a serious oral health issue which can result in suffers experiencing symptoms such as discomfort after eating cold food, drinking cold liquids, or even breathing cold air.

Dr Garry Heavey, of the IDA, said, ‘The figures announced show that tooth sensitivity is becoming more prevalent among Irish adults, and this trend looks set to continue.

‘The most common causes of tooth sensitivity is gum recession, often due to vigorous or heavy-handed brushing. Our gums are like protective blankets, covering the roots of the teeth. If this protective covering is worn away the roots, which are linked directly to the nerve, become exposed and painful. Many people don realise that brushing with too much pressure can result in receding gums, and eventually lead to sensitive teeth.

‘In order to stop the gums from receding patients should reduce the pressure on the tooth while brushing, use a soft bristled tooth brush, and set aside two to three minutes, twice a day to properly brush and floss all tooth surfaces. Treatment of sensitive teeth is a must and we recommend that anyone experiencing sensitivity consult their dentist. The IDA recommend that people experiencing pain use a special toothpaste, such as Sensodyne toothpaste which desensitizes the tooth nerve directly, in addition sufferers should use a fluoride mouthwash, and avoid acidic foods. Sensitivity should fade away in a matter of weeks.’

Dr Heavey concluded, ‘The report also showed that people are becoming much more aware of their dental health, of the importance of taking care of their teeth and gums, and are attending their dentist on a more regular basis. We would further advise that people of all ages should make regular appointments for check ups with their dentist as this is the most effective way to prevent gum deterioration, the onset of gum disease, and the maintenance of good oral health.’