What do toothpastes like Sensodyne do that regular toothpastes do not?

Ever wonder what is the difference between regular toothpastes and those senso-toothpastes? What do they do and why are they more expensive? Are they meant for old people? or sick people?

The short answer – those toothpastes are meant for sensitive teeth.

Tooth sensitivity is experienced during the intake of cold or hot beverages. At times a sudden blast of air or chewing on something sweet can also trigger this sensitivity. This is caused by the movement of fluid within tiny tubules present in the layer of the tooth called dentin. Ideally these are protected from the changes inside the mouth by the outermost layer of the tooth called enamel. But when the enamel gets worn away, the inner layer (dentin) gets exposed. Enamel can get worn away due to improper brushing, demineralization by acidic foods, cavities and abnormal grinding forces on the teeth. Regurgitation from the stomach or constant vomiting, as seen in bulimia, can also result in wearing away of the enamel since the tooth comes in contact with the stomach acids. Sometimes, bleaching the teeth can trigger sensitivity.

The changes in the environment of the mouth affect the movement of the fluid in the dentinal tubules, stimulating the nerves of the tooth and resulting in sensitivity. Toothpastes like Sensodyne and Colgate Sensitive have potassium nitrate as an ingredient. It acts by desensitizing the nerve fibers of the tooth. So even when there are any temperature or pressure changes in the mouth, the nerves of the tooth do not respond to the changes.

Certain toothpastes provide relief by sealing the dentinal tubules so that the changes in the oral environment are not passed on to the nerve endings in the tubules. Ingredients commonly used are Strontium Chloride and Stannous fluoride (Gel-Kam). These products are recommended for those who have severe tooth sensitivity. Your dentist can also apply a layer of fluoride varnish (5% sodium fluoride) over the sensitive areas of your tooth. These also occlude the tubules protecting them from the external changes in the mouth.

Nowadays products are available that help the tooth to remineralize itself. Remineralization of the tooth can aid in decreasing the sensitivity. Products like GC tooth mousse, make minerals like calcium and phosphate available to the tooth topically. It contains proteins derived from milk, so please read the details or/and ask your dentist before you use them, especially for those who have allergies.

Footnote: BasicOralCare.com does not endorse the products mentioned in these posts. They are mentioned here as options available in the market. They are only recommendations. Please talk to your dentist before using them. All trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.

3 Responses to “What do toothpastes like Sensodyne do that regular toothpastes do not?”

  1. sAP January 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Wow, though I knew about nerve endings, never knew about fluid inside the tooth. Thanks for the enlightenment!


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