Tooth sensitivity FAQs
What is tooth sensitivity?
Dentinal hypersensitivity, or tooth sensitivity, is a common dental problem that can arise when dentine, the inner part of the tooth, becomes exposed. It’s a condition that can develop over time, as a result of common problems such as receding gums and enamel wear.
Find out What Causes Sensitive Teeth
What causes tooth sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity can start to happen when the softer, inner part of the tooth called ‘dentine’ becomes exposed. Dentine lies under the enamel and the gums. Thousands of microscopic channels run through the dentine towards the centre of the tooth. Once the dentine is exposed, external triggers (such as a cold drink) can stimulate the nerves inside the tooth, resulting in the characteristic short, sharp pain of tooth sensitivity.
See What Causes Sensitive Teeth to find out more
How can I protect myself against sensitivity?
Talk to your dentist about the symptoms you are experiencing. They can confirm that tooth sensitivity is the cause of your problem and then advise you on how to care for sensitive teeth, for example, what is the best toothbrushing technique for you, how often and when. In addition, you can relieve the painful symptoms of tooth sensitivity by changing your regular toothpaste to a daily use toothpaste specially formulated to treat sensitive teeth, such as Sensodyne
See Ongoing Oral Care For Sensitive Teeth to find out more
What triggers sensitive teeth?
A range of things can trigger a twinge or tooth pain for people with sensitive teeth. Here’s some of the most common triggers for tooth sensitivity:
- Cold foods or beverages
- Hot foods or beverages
- Sugary foods
- Sour foods
- Breathing in cold air
- Brushing teeth
See Common Triggers of Sensitive Teeth to find out more.
Is tooth sensitivity a common dental problem?
Yes. Sensitive teeth may affect as many as 1 in 3 people, even young adults. Most sufferers are between 20 and 50 years old.
Is tooth sensitivity a sign of a more serious dental problem?
There can be many different causes of dental pain other than tooth sensitivity. So if you are feeling any tooth pain or discomfort, especially if it persists, the best thing you can do is visit your dentist and seek professional advice.
See Other Reasons for Sensitivity to find out more.
Can brushing too hard cause sensitive teeth?
Brushing overly too aggressively or more frequently than your dentist recommends can contribute to gum recession and wear enamel. Over time, receding gums and enamel loss can lead to exposed dentine and tooth sensitivity.
See Other Reasons for Sensitivity to find out more
Can tooth whitening cause sensitivity?
Tooth whitening here means whitening treatments carried out under the supervision of your dentist. These treatments contain bleaching agents (peroxide), which are known to cause sensitivity in some patients. This is not the same as dentinal hypersensitivity, which happens as a result of having exposed dentine (the softer, inner part of the tooth). Speak to your dentist about bleaching-related sensitivity if you are considering having a tooth whitening treatment.
See do Whitening Treatments Cause Sensitivity for more information
Acid erosion FAQ's
What is acid erosion?
The wearing away of enamel, caused by acid in our diet, is called "Acid Wear." As few as four acidic "occasions" throughout the day can put our enamel at risk from acid wear. If your tooth enamel is at risk of acid wear, ask your dentist about the issue, for dietary advice, how best to consume the many acidic foods and drinks in the modern diet and the best oral hygiene routine for you.
What causes acid erosion?
Over time, acidic foods and drinks can cause your teeth enamel to wear down. These include fruit and fruit juices, carbonated drinks, black coffee or tea, wine and anything that tastes sharp, like ketchup or salad dressing. To help protect your teeth against acid erosion, talk to your dentist and use a fluoride toothpaste specially developed for people at risk of acid wear, such as Sensodyne. Ask your dentist for dietary advice on the best oral hygiene routine for you and how best to consume the many acidic foods and drinks in the modern diet.
Can acid erosion cause teeth sensitivity?
Yes. Acid erosion can contribute to enamel wear. Enamel is the hard outer layer of a tooth. Although it’s harder than any other substance in the body, with time it can gradually be worn away to expose the layer of dentine beneath, which may lead to tooth sensitivity.
Frequent Questions about toothpaste for sensitivity
How do desensitizing toothpastes work?
People with exposed dentine are susceptible to tooth sensitivity, triggered, for example, by cold drinks or hot food. Sensodyne formulas work in two different ways: Sensodyne toothpastes with potassium nitrate works to soothe the nerves inside the tooth. Sensodyne Repair & Protect with stannous fluoride builds a robust reparative layer over the exposed dentine to create a barrier to pain triggers. Each Sensodyne toothpaste, is proven to relieve the pain of tooth sensitivity with twice daily brushing.
Does Sensodyne toothpaste come in different varients?
Sensodyne toothpaste comes in many different variations to meet individual needs and preference:
Does Sensodyne toothpaste have a tooth whitening formulation?
Yes. Sensodyne formulations are available in Sensodyne Repair & Protect Whitening toothpaste, Sensodyne Whitening toothpaste,
How often should I use Sensodyne toothpaste?
We would recommend using Sensodyne toothpaste twice a day, every day, in place of your regular toothpaste for ongoing protection from tooth sensitivity. Ask your dentist for advice about the best oral hygiene routine for you.
How long will I use Sensodyne before I notice less sensitivity?
Sensitivity toothpastes require a period of twice daily use to benefit from lasting protection against the pain of dentinal hypersensitivity.
Clinical studies have shown that sensitivity toothpaste containing potassium nitrate, such as Sensodyne, relieve tooth sensitivity in as little as 2 weeks, with twice daily brushing.
Clinical studies have shown that Sensodyne toothpastes containing stannous fluoride (Sensodyne Repair and Protect) relieve tooth sensitivity in 4 weeks, with twice daily brushing.
[For Markets with NovaMin]
Clinical studies have shown that, with twice daily brushing, toothpastes containing 5% NovaMin, such as Sensodyne Repair & Protect, starts to work in as little as 1 week and provides significant benefits in as little as 2 weeks, with clinical improvements continuing over 6 months.
Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Sensitive teeth may indicate an underlying problem that needs prompt care. If symptoms persist or worsen, see your dentist.
Once I stop using Sensodyne toothpaste will my tooth sensitivity return?
Clinical studies investigating the efficacy of potassium nitrate-containing sensitivity toothpastes have shown that the pain of sensitive teeth begins to return when usage stopped.
Sensodyne toothpastes are daily use toothpastes, developed to help relieve dentinal hypersensitivity, when used as directed, twice a day, every day.
Please consult your dentist for advice about sensitive teeth, and the best oral hygiene routine and toothpaste for you.
Always read the label and follow the directions for us. Sensitive teeth may indicate an underlying problem that needs prompt care. If symptoms persist or worsen, see your dentist.
Why should children under 12 consult a dentist before using Sensodyne toothpaste?
Sensodyne toothpaste is not recommended for use by children under the age of 12. Sensitivity is rarely a problem in children that young. Check with your child's dentist for appropriate advice and recommendation.
Does Sensodyne toothpaste contain fluoride?
Does Sensodyne contain triclosan?
Sensodyne toothpastes do not contain triclosan
Is Sensodyne toothpaste available as a travel-sized tube?
Sensodyne toothpaste is available in a travel-sized tube in major retail outlets.
Can I use mouthwash after brushing with Sensodyne toothpaste?
Yes, you may use mouthwash after using Sensodyne toothpaste. Ask your dentist for advice on the best oral hygiene routine for you.
Sensodyne offers a daily use mouthrinse specially formulated to help protect against tooth sensitivity, and also contains fluoride (except Sensodyne Original) to help strengthen your teeth.
What is the Relative Dentin Abrasion (RDA) for Sensodyne toothpaste?
All Sensodyne toothpastes comply with the American Dental Association (ADA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) guidelines for daily use dentifrices. Sensodyne toothpastes have low Relative Dentine Abrasion (RDA) values in the range of 35-140, depending on variants (and market).
Do Sensodyne toothpaste tooth-whitening formulas actually bleach as well as relieve sensitivity?
Sensodyne toothpaste whitening formulas do not bleach. They contain a matrix of polishing and cleaning ingredients which all contribute to their tooth cleaning and whitening effect with twice daily brushing. Sensodyne toothpaste variants contain proven desensitising active ingredients.
Is Sensodyne toothpaste safe to use during tooth-whitening treatments?
Dentinal hypersensitivity is a common and painful condition of the teeth which can arise when the dentine of the tooth becomes exposed (typically as a result of gingival recession or tooth wear). The sensitivity which can be experienced during and after professional whitening treatments is different. In this case, the bleaching component of the treatments is believed to penetrate the tooth, causing sensitivity.
Clinical studies indicate that toothpastes containing potassium nitrate can reduce the sensitivity associated with professional whitening procedures. In these studies, subjects using Sensodyne with potassium nitrate for two weeks prior to, and during whitening treatment experienced less sensitivity post treatment, compared to those using a regular fluoride toothpaste.
Speak to your dentist about bleaching-related sensitivity if you are considering having a tooth whitening treatment. Use Sensodyne products as directed on the product label.
How is Sensodyne Repair & Protect toothpaste different from the other Sensodyne toothpaste?
Sensodyne Repair & Protect toothpaste uses a different active ingredient. The active ingredient used in Sensodyne Repair & Protect toothpaste is NovaMin, which builds a protective, reparative layer over the sensitive areas of the teeth. Brush twice a day for lasting sensitivity protection.
What are the bristles made of?
The bristles are made of nylon.
Why is the Sensodyne toothbrush good for people with sensitive teeth?
Sensodyne toothbrushes have small angled heads, designed to provide effective cleaning, even in hard to reach areas. The soft toothbrush bristles have been specially designed to gently clean the teeth and be gentle on the gums. Ask your dentist for advice on the best oral hygiene routine and toothbrushing technique for you.
How often should one replace a toothbrush?
We support the American Dental Society (ADA) recommendation to replace toothbrushes approximately every 3-4 months or sooner if the bristles become splayed with use.
What is the benefit of using a manual toothbrush over an electric toothbrush?
Both manual and electric toothbrushes have been shown to be effective in removing plaque from teeth. Ask your dentist for advice on the best oral healthcare routine and toothbrushing technique for you
Can I use a Sensodyne toothbrush on my dentures?
A Sensodyne toothbrush may be used to clean your dentures but a denture brush may be better suited to reach the underside surfaces of your denture.