How Does Desensitizing Toothpaste Work?

Normally, your teeth are protected from sensitivity thanks to enamel, which is the white part of the tooth.

When enamel is worn away, the inner parts of the tooth are exposed to the air and what you eat, and this is what makes your teeth sensitive.

What makes us lose protective enamel? Enamel is worn down every day with grinding and acids in the foods and drinks we consume.

Not flossing also makes teeth sensitive because it causes gums to pull away from your teeth, exposing the inner dentin that would normally be protected by your gums.

How Desensitizing Toothpaste Works

It contains an ingredients such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which block pain signals to the nerve of the tooth by stopping up the tiny tunnels in your teeth, which go to the nerve.

Some brands claim their toothpaste can reduce sensitivity within two uses. Dr. Corne Smith says it’s closer to about a month of daily use.

It only treats symptoms after the fact — it can’t cure your sensitivity. What does that mean? Imagine if your house was on fire and you responded by trying to remove the smoke. If your teeth are sensitive, something bad is happening to cause those symptoms. Desensitizing toothpaste is great for feeling better, and I use it myself, but make sure to treat the root cause of your sensitivity to protect your teeth from getting worse.

Is the Active Ingredient in Desensitizing Toothpaste Safe?

One of the best resources for checking if an ingredient is safe or not is the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which keeps a database on the safety of thousands of commonly used chemicals based on published scientific literature.

Potassium nitrate got the best score from the EWG: 1 on a scale from zero to 10, with 10 being the highest hazard and 0-2 being “low hazard.”

Stannous fluoride got the second best score: 2 out of 10. While fluoride is not effective in strengthening teeth in the form of toothpaste, it is a very effective desensitizer.

Strontium chloride scored 3 out of 10, “moderate hazard.” It’s been banned by the Japanese government for being unsafe for use in cosmetics.

Potassium nitrate will work just as well as strontium chloride in terms of reducing your sensitivity, so my recommendation is, just go with the safer active ingredient: potassium nitrate.

If you suffer from sensitivity, pop in at the best dental practice in Newlands Claremont, Cape Town Corne Smith Dentistry and let’s take a look for you. Keeping on top of dental issues can prevent future and more serious dental problems.