Which toothpaste for sensitive teeth should I use?
There is no clear winner as yet. Their efficacy may very well depend on your individual oral environment and the original cause of the sensitivity. Is it due to toothbrushing, acidic environment, very hypersensitive nerves, other systemic factors, psychological factors or bruxism. I feel that with mild sensitivity, most of the treatments will work. It should also be noted that a strong placebo effect has been recorded with studies relating to pain. Below I have created a summary of the active ingredients and their efficacy. Comment and feedback welcome…
My advice would be
1. Visit your dentist(preferably someone that has some knowledge on the subject) to ascertain the probable cause.
2. Eliminate in-between meal acidity
3. make sure your toothbrushing style and equipment is correct
4. Try-out the different toothpaste components and use for at least 4 weeks to see what works for you. All available at www.dentalcareproducts.com.au
Understanding Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity affects 10 to 30% of the population. It is subjective and difficult to study because of this. In retail available toothpastes, that claim desensitising ability, there are five major active ingredients. They include potassium nitrate, strontium chloride, CPP-ACP, arginine and sodium fluoride. I have limited my review just to their active ingredients at this moment but further comment on their non-active components will follow. Please see previous articles about the causes of sensitivity. All the ingredients are designed around the hydrodynamic causes of sensitivity, which relates to the fluid movement within the dentinal tubule stimulating the nerve ending and causing pain.
In a nutshell researchers feel that Potassium nitrate works by stopping the firing of the nerve endings in the tubules in the root surface of the tooth. By creating large pools of potassium at the nerve ending, the neuron is unable to fire. Takes 1 to 2 weeks to have an effect and its use needs to be ongoing. There is little concrete independent evidence of the efficacy of this treatment. There is some evidence that suggests that the nerves can become hypersensitive and unless you use a nitrate the nerve endings will continue to fire even if you occlude the tubules.
Toothpastes that use potassium nitrate are Pronamel, Colgate Sensitive, Sensodyne Total Fresh
Strontium Chloride is one of the original desensitising agents. This ingredient works by blocking the tubules in the dentine surface on the root of the tooth. The deposits occur over time and take time to build up and be effective. The use of this ingredient has been mostly superseded. It is still present in the Original Sensodyne toothpaste and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness. Not many studies are done on this active ingredient anymore.
This is the latest innervation in tooth desensitisation. It again works by plugging the tubules but apparently in a more effective way than strontium chloride. There have been some independent studies, which have supported this claim. It also works well with fluoride.
Again these fluoride compounds work by precipitating into the tubules and occluding them.
Present in most fluoride containing toothpastes
This active ingredient is a naturally occurring protein from milk. It binds to the tooth surface and encourages the deposition of mineral deposits within the dentinal tubules. This process is encouraged by the presence of fluoride but the presence of bacteria(plaque) can reverse the effects
Present in GC Mousse plus and GC mousse