Sensitive toothpaste is developed to help reduce the symptoms of tooth sensitivity. It is important to identify why your teeth are sensitive e.g. acid erosion, a cavity, gum recession, cracked tooth. Your dental team will be able to help identify the cause of your tooth sensitivity.
You may also hear the terms dentine hypersensitivity or root sensitivity used to describe sensitive teeth. Hot, cold, sweet or acidic food and drink or breathing in cold air may be some of the things that increase sensitivity of your teeth.
The most common cause of tooth sensitivity is gum recession, where the gums have shrunk away at the neck of the tooth, exposing the root surface. The root surface is not covered by the hard outer tooth coating, enamel, and when the underlying dentine is exposed to stimuli e.g. cold, a sharp pain is experienced. It usually is relieved by removing the stimulus – e.g. avoiding ice cold drinks.
Sensitive toothpaste helps create a barrier between the sensitive dentine and the stimuli that is painful. There are a number of active ingredients that have been shown to help reduce sensitivity. Some people will find one may work better than another. It is important that if you find a toothpaste that helps relieve symptoms to continue use. The ecosystem in the mouth is continually fluctuating with minerals being lost and replaced on the tooth surfaces. This is affected by what we eat and drink, our saliva flow and composition and the tooth surfaces exposure to remineralising agents e.g. fluoride, calcium and phosphate. The active ingredients in your toothpaste help to maintain the balance and control sensitivity so it is important to continue using regularly.
Use a soft, dry toothbrush with a pea sized blob of toothpaste. Spread the paste all around the tooth surfaces then brush all teeth. Spit out after brushing but don’t rinse all the toothpaste away. Let the active ingredients work for as long as possible. You may find rubbing a little toothpaste onto sensitive areas with a clean finger between brushings beneficial.