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When you brush your teeth, less is more

Well meaning health propaganda could be leading people to brush too hard for too long, to the detriment of gums and even enamel, say researchers.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 26, 2003 13:31 IST

Conscientious tooth-brushers learned the awful truth on Thursday: their tedious marathons at the basin may do more harm than good.

Well meaning health propaganda could be leading people to brush too hard for too long, to the detriment of gums and even enamel, according to university researchers.

Hours of tests on brushing and scrubbing volunteers have found that more than two minutes triggers a risk of damage to gums, particularly if the toothbrush user presses too hard.

"Once you go beyond approximately that point you aren't being any more effective than if you had stopped," said Peter Heasman, professor of periodontology (the study of structures surrounding and supporting teeth) at Newcastle University. "You could actually be harming your gums and possibly your teeth.

"Pressure is equally important to get right. The force you apply to your toothbrush could seem quite light, but the pressure will be much greater because you are applying that force to a very small area."

Prof Heasman meanwhile offered his five tips for ivory castles: get the shape of your brush right, and change it when it gets manky; check your technique with the dentist; do not scrub, brush; floss or use interdental brushes; and brush on the two minutes/150 grams formula at least once a day.

First Published: Jun 20, 2003 02:32 IST