How does desensitizing toothpaste work?

In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel protects the crowns of your teeth -- the part above the gum line. Under the gum line a layer called cementum protects the tooth root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin. When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum these tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin may also be exposed when gums recede. The result for both can be hypersensitivity.

One way to treat sensitive teeth is by using desensitizing toothpaste, which contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. It usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.

There are many reasons your teeth may be sensitive. Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity.
Desensitizing toothpastes can help people whose teeth are sensitive to heat or cold. These toothpastes contain ingredients such as strontium chloride and potassium nitrate that help block the transmission of pain signals from the surface of your tooth to the nerve inside. They do this by stopping up the tiny tubes in the dentin of your teeth. The dentin is the layer of tissue beneath the hard enamel. Desensitizing toothpastes usually take a month of regular use to decrease pain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.