Do you experience tooth sensitivity to hot or cold beverages or acidic foods? Dental hypersensitivity – the sharp, short pains in exposed teeth – is one of the most common clinical problems. If you are one of the many people who experience dental hypersensitivity, a sensitivity toothpaste may be right for you. Sensitivity toothpastes work in one of three ways, depending on the active ingredient.

Potassium nitrate works by depolarizing the nerve in the tooth to keep it from firing so there is no pain.

Strontium acetate and chloride replace lost calcium and block the exposed tubules in dentinal tissue, which helps prevent fluid movement within tubules that would otherwise cause pain in the tooth.

Calcium sodium phosphosilicate, sold as NovaMin, is found in newer sensitivity toothpaste products. The compound sticks to the dentin surface to react with it, forming a mineral layer. This mineral layer bonds with the tooth, forming a strong and resistant barrier to acid. This provides a constant release of calcium over time, which helps maintain the protective properties of dentin.

According to the Center for Dental Research, a calcium carbonate base provides significantly reduced tooth hypersensitivity, and has been shown to be more effective than toothpastes containing 8% strontium acetate. Another study (Li et al., 2011) demonstrated that a toothpaste containing 15% hydroxyapatite nanoparticles was more effective than a 5% NovaMin or an 8% arginine-based toothpaste at reducing hypersensitivity in adults.

As new research emerges, dental professionals will know more about which active ingredients are most effective. Check ingredient labels for the active ingredients mentioned above – all of them have an effective mechanism of action, so will provide some relief. If toothpaste does not provide the comfort you need, talk to your Fashion Isle Smiles dentist about your condition. You may be advised to avoid aggressive cross brushing or avoid tooth whitening treatments. Your dentist can also provide an in-office treatment, beginning with a topically applied desensitizing agent.

Addy M. Dentine hypersensitivity: New perspectives on an old problem. Int Dent J. 2002;52:367–75.

Li, Yiming; Lee, Sean; Zhang, Yun Po; Delgado, Evaristo; DeVizio, William; Mateo, Luis R. (2011-01-01). “Comparison of clinical efficacy of three toothpastes in reducing dentin hypersensitivity”The Journal of Clinical Dentistry 22 (4): 113–120.