Tech Talk With Dr. Cranska


In upcoming months, I will answer questions on high-technology dentistry. Please direct inquiries to my website at or email me at

Toothpaste For Sensitive Teeth

Toothpaste in a tube has been sold since 1896. Desensitizing toothpastes can help people with teeth that are sensitive to heat or cold. With all the changes and improvements to toothpaste over the years, the numerous options you have when you buy a tube can be overwhelming.

Q: What is sensitive toothpaste?

A: These toothpastes contain ingredients such as potassium nitrate and stannous fluoride that help block the transmission of pain signals from the root surface of your tooth to the nerve inside. The nerve impulses are thus desensitized and there is no longer pain.

The first toothpaste marketed for sensitive teeth was in 1961. It was based on a strontium chloride formulation. The active ingredient in most brands changed to potassium nitrate in 1980.

These toothpastes also offer the benefits of regular toothpaste by including fluoride. They provide cavity prevention and are flavored for a fresh taste. If sensitivity is resolved now and returns in the future, brush with the toothpaste for sensitive teeth twice a day, every day and continue to use it as your daily toothpaste.

Q: There are so many toothpastes to choose from. Why all the choices?

A: Toothpaste (whether paste or gel) improves your tooth-brushing technique with additional mechanical help in removing dental plaque. Plaque is a bacteria-filled biofilm, the major component that causes tooth decay and gum disease.

The major ingredients of all toothpastes are abrasive agents, detergents, thickeners, flavorings and fluoride. Another consideration is the type of toothpaste: sensitivity, fresh breath, tartar control, whitening, gum care, all-natural ingredients, etc.

Q: What do I look for when purchasing the best toothpaste for my family?

A: I tell all my patients, what matters most is to use toothpaste that has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of acceptance. This ensures the product has fluoride that meets the ADA requirements for safety and effectiveness in reducing tooth decay with its use. This ADA seal has been on approved fluoride toothpastes since 1955. The seal relates only to a product’s fluoride content — how it is released and its effectiveness — not any other product claims.

Personal preference of taste and feel is important. Change to a different product if the ingredients irritate your teeth, cheeks or lips; don’t make your mouth feel fresh and clean; or if you have sensitive teeth.

The best advice in selecting among these products is to ask your dentist or dental hygienist about your individual needs at the present time.

Q: Toothpastes don’t help my sensitive teeth. What should I do?

A: You need to visit your dentist to determine the cause of your problem. Common causes of temperature toothaches are tooth decay, gum disease, grinding and clenching of your teeth, cracked and eroded tooth enamel, use of tooth whitening gels and diet effects (acids, soda, citrus fruits, etc.). Find out what can you do to treat your problem right now. Different causes require different solutions.

Utilize the modern dental technologies for early treatment of tooth sensitivity. Make regular dental visits to take advantage of your dentist’s experience.


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