Does the thought of eating ice cream or any cold foods make you cringe because you know how bad your teeth will hurt? You could be one of the millions of Americans that suffer from sensitive teeth. While the causes of sensitive teeth can vary, there are some toothpastes that can help alleviate the symptoms.
If your teeth are sensitive and you don’t think that it is caused by reversible or irreversible pulpitis, then you may want to try a toothpaste that is made especially for sensitive teeth.
Toothpastes made for sensitive teeth usually contain two extra ingredients that help decrease painful tooth sensitivity. These two extra ingredients are:
Potassium Nitrate and Strontium Chloride.
Both of these ingredients work by acting on the dentin tubules. In order to understand how these ingredients work, I will first give a brief explanation of dentin tubules.
What Are Dentin Tubules?
The dentin tubules are tiny tubes that go from the outside of your teeth (when dentin is exposed to the outside surface, which usually happens with gum recession) to the dental pulp. If the dentin tubules are openly exposed to the inside of your mouth, then it is easy for sensations to be transferred to the nerves in the dental pulp.
It is this transmission of various stimuli, such as heat, cold, and sweets, that cause the nerves to send the message of pain to your brain. After all, the only sensation that the dental pulp can send to the brain is the sensation of pain.
Here’s a brief summary of how potassium nitrate and strontium chloride work. You can find links to two informative animations that show how potassium nitrate and strontium chloride can help alleviate tooth sensitivity.
How Potassium Nitrate Decreases Tooth Sensitivity
Potassium nitrate decreases tooth sensitivity by entering into the dental tubules and making its way to the nerves of the dental pulp. These potassium ions find their way tot he pulp where they block the transmission of pain to the brain. While hot and cold would still cause the nerves to send a pain signal to the brain, the potassium ion interrupts the pain signal so that you don’t feel anything.
An added benefit of potassium nitrate is that it can build up in the dentin tubules. By continuing to brush with sensitivity toothpaste, you can provide your dentin tubules with a large supply of potassium nitrate which will give you lasting relief from sensitivity.
How Strontium Chloride Decreases Tooth Sensitivity
Strontium chloride works by blocking the dentin tubules. The dentin tubules are very tiny holes that go to the dental pulp. Strontium chloride simply covers up these holes. Normally, the tubules are covered up by cementum on the tooth root or enamel on the tooth crown. Strontium chloride simply returns the tubules to their natural “covered up” state.
If the dentin tubules are open, then it is easy for sensations to be transferred to the nerves in the dental pulp. By closing the tubules with strontium chloride, you can eliminate tooth sensitivity by stopping the nerves of the dental pulp from receiving any painful stimulation.
Does Sensitivity Toothpaste Work for You?
A few years ago, I had a tooth that was very sensitive. I used Sensodyne for a couple of months, but the tooth only got more painful. Since I had a dental checkup coming up, I waited until then to tell my dentist. It turns out that the tooth had irreversible pulpitis, and I had to get a root canal treatment done on it.
What about you, have you tried sensitivity toothpaste? Has it worked for you? Let us know in the comments!