Sensitivity Toothpastes Show Minimal Effect

Preventive Value Debated by Researchers

A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports concluded that toothpaste for sensitive teeth does not actually prevent enamel erosion. And while some toothpastes made for sensitive teeth may erode the enamel less than others, all of the tested tooth surfaces suffered some erosion from toothbrushing. The study demonstrates that the complex process of remineralization (the natural repair of the tooth enamel) involves many reactions and components. As a result, certain conclusions can be reached that our Placerville dentists would like to pass along to our patients for the sake of their oral hygiene.

How the Research Was Done

A limitation of the research study is that it involved in vitro experimentation. Although real human tooth enamel was studied, all of the research took place in a lab environment — not human mouths. Therefore, the results indicate mechanical and chemical findings without measuring the complex reactions that take place in our bodies when we brush our teeth. Nevertheless, the findings do provide some food for thought.

The Research Results

Research completed on five sensitivity toothpaste brands found that each caused different amounts of enamel surface loss and none of them prevented tooth enamel erosion or abrasion. Therefore, the researchers concluded that toothpastes marketed for tooth sensitivity have some use, but that they do not treat, prevent or repair tooth enamel. Interestingly, even the artificial saliva used in this study caused slight amounts of enamel wear, indicating that the very process of brushing the teeth wears away some enamel.

What the research highlighted in a positive sense are the ingredients that are most important for preventing enamel loss. Higher levels of calcium and phosphorus led to less surface wear on the teeth, likely because these are important components of tooth enamel. Also, the presence of tin as an active ingredient minimized enamel loss. Toothpastes that contain tin usually have it in the form of “stannous fluoride.”

Although fluoride has long been connected with better remineralization of enamel, it appeared to cause no difference between the tested toothpastes. Still, the researchers said this about fluoride as an oral hygiene component: “the presence of fluoride in the toothpastes is still important, especially for caries prevention.”

How to Prevent Enamel Erosion and Tooth Sensitivity

So how can you protect your tooth enamel? Based on this research, study co-author Samira Helena João-Souza says: “Dental erosion is multifactorial. It has to do with brushing, and above all, with diet. Food and drink are increasingly acidic as a result of industrial processing.”

Therefore, here are some tips to help you remineralize your teeth, minimize enamel loss and keep your teeth:

  • Follow a daily oral care routine, brushing and flossing everyday. Keep in mind that brushing only twice a day is likely sufficient to care for your teeth, perhaps with a third time after lunch.
  • Limit your intake of sugary or acidic foods and beverages.
  • Drink more water, especially fluoridated water.
  • Experience in our dental practice indicates that fluoride mouthwashes are very helpful for remineralizing teeth. Mouthwashes apply active ingredients while avoiding the abrasion that comes from toothbrushing.
  • Look for toothpastes without silica as an ingredient. Silica is essentially sand, and its purpose in toothpaste is to help remove plaque, tartar and stains from your enamel. If your problem is thin enamel, however, you need to avoid enamel abrasion caused by silica.

Finally, keep your appointments with the Placerville Dental Group to supplement your home dental care routine. Certain in-office treatments can go a long way towards eliminating tooth sensitivity. Call us to schedule an appointment today!


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