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  • TinWai Ip

Don't Let Sensitive Teeth Run Your Life

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

Teeth Sensitivity is one of the commonest causes of toothache. Have you ever found yourself actively avoiding things you use to enjoy like ice cream or a hot cup of tea?

So, what is it really and why is this happening?

There are many factors that lead to developing tooth sensitivity. It is a common problem in adults (ranging from 8-57%). Tooth sensitivity can be caused by loss of the enamel layer by brushing too hard, abrasive toothpastes or polishes, acidic foods and drink, gum recession, gingivitis, cracked teeth, teeth grinding, medical conditions, or genetics. Sensitivity can range from a slight twinge now and again to agonizing throbbing set off by the seemingly harmless things. This sudden pain can be caused by chemical, thermal, osmotic, evaporative, or tactile stimulation.

The hydrodynamic theory is widely accepted as the reasoning of why teeth sensitivity happens. The dentine layer of the tooth (under enamel) is made of dentine tubules which look like thin straws lined up side by side. The straws have fluid inside which moves and stimulates nerves causing pain. However, once sensitivity is established, the pulp (nerves) is prone to become irreversibly sensitive.

What we can do to reduce teeth sensitivity?

There are many treatments available and constantly developed for this persistently annoying ache. The main goal is to eliminate the sensitivity and prevent it from reoccurring; however, there is, unfortunately, yet to be a product or medication can achieve this completely. Studies have shown the following products/ treatments to have a successful effect on reducing teeth sensitivity.

ClinPRo White Varnish has tricalcium phosphate techniology, formulated with socium fluoride and can remineralize (‘heal’) where the enamel has been weakened. It reduces dentine permeability with results showing in only a single week. It is also effective against citric acid attacks (i.e. lemonade, orange juice).

Duraphat Varnish is the most commonly heard of in UK dental practices. As a concentrated dose of sodium fluoride, it is a well-known therapeutic agent for teeth sensitivity. It reduced sensitivity by closing the ‘straws’ in dentine by crystallization and so decrease the dentinal fluid’s movement toward to nerves. The benefit of this treatment is that results are seen immediately after application, with sensitivity reducing significantly. However, sensitivity does return after some time as your saliva dissolves the crystallization exposing the tooth to sensitivity.

Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief toothpaste contains arginine and calcium carbonate form dentine-like minerals to close off the dentine ‘straws’. Arginine and calcium carbonate react in the presence of saliva to deposit calcium and phosphate minerals. This toothpaste also has element K, which can act as nerve stabilizer in patients with sensitivity. So, Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief toothpaste works in two ways to manage sensitivity: 1) closing off dentine tubules and 2) lower the sensitivity of the nerves in the tooth.

Recent development of nano-hydroxyapatite (n-HAp) toothpastes show promising results in reducing sensitivity. However, they are not as readily available in the UK.

Sensodyne Repair and Protect toothpaste contains NovaMin® (5)%, which is an in organic amorphous calcium phosphosilicate (CSPS). CSPS binds to collagen and closes the dentinal tubules. Forming a protective layer on the tooth surface may take several weeks.

More than treating the symptoms, we need to treat the cause. Speak to your dentist or contact me for a consultation to see how we can solve your sensitivity together and bring enjoyment back into your daily life.


Berkathullah, Marwah et al. “The Effectiveness of Remineralizing Agents on Dentinal Permeability.” BioMed research international vol. 2018 4072815. 12 Sep. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/4072815

Jena, Amit et al. “Comparing the effectiveness of four desensitizing toothpastes on dentinal tubule occlusion: A scanning electron microscope analysis.” Journal of conservative dentistry : JCD vol. 20,4 (2017): 269-272. doi:10.4103/JCD.JCD_34_17

Raphael, Sarah, and Anthony Blinkhorn. “Is there a place for Tooth Mousse in the prevention and treatment of early dental caries? A systematic review.” BMC oral health vol. 15,1 113. 25 Sep. 2015, doi:10.1186/s12903-015-0095-6

Rees, J.S. (2000), The prevalence of dentine hypersensitivity in general dental practice in the UK. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 27: 860-865. doi:10.1034/j.1600-051x.2000.027011860.x

Vano M, Derchi G, Barone A, Covani U. Effectiveness of nano-hydroxyapatite toothpaste in reducing dentin hypersensitivity: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Quintessence Int. 2014 Sep;45(8):703-11. doi: 10.3290/j.qi.a32240. PMID: 25019114.

Sauro S., Watson T. F., Thompson I. Dentine desensitization induced by prophylactic and air-polishing procedures: An in vitro dentine permeability and confocal microscopy study. Journal of Dentistry. 2010;38(5):411–422. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2010.01.010.

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