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Toothpaste Ingredients for Sensitive Teeth

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Suffering from sensitive teeth is no joke. The short, sharp pain of sensitivity can stop you in your tracks and, if ongoing, can ruin your day. However, there are a few toothpaste ingredients you can look out for that can help with sensitive teeth. Brushing with the right toothpaste makes your teeth healthier in the long term, but choosing the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth can relieve your discomfort within two weeks.

Teeth become sensitive when the pulp inside the tooth has little to no protection from temperature changes in the mouth, typically brought on by certain foods. Teeth contain a soft, nerve-filled centre, and a layer of dentine covers the pulp that exists at this level. Over the dentine lies enamel, which covers teeth above the gum; and cementum, which coats your tooth roots below the crown. Read on to find out more about which ingredients to look for when you’re shopping for toothpaste for sensitive teeth. These sensitive toothpaste ingredients will help to protect the important surfaces of your teeth.

Enamel Strengthening

Enamel and cementum protect the inner tooth, but when they erode or break down, the nerves in the pulp become vulnerable. Eating hot, cold, sweet and acidic foods can stimulate the nerves through tubules in the dentine that connect to the tooth's surface, causing the pain you might know all too well.

Some causes of eroded or broken-down enamel include tooth decay, brushing aggressively, using a hard-bristled toothbrush, consuming highly acidic foods or beverages, tooth-grinding at night, receding gums and even some dental procedures such as bleaching – though this effect is temporary. Some people also have the misfortune of naturally thin tooth enamel. 

For this reason, the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth is one that strengthens the enamel and contains active ingredients to protect the nerves that hot and cold foods often irritate. For example, Colgate Total Advanced Enamel Health Toothpaste can help to repair weakened enamel* and give your whole mouth protection. 

Potassium Nitrate

Potassium nitrate is one of the best toothpaste ingredients for sensitive teeth. It’s an active ingredient in sensitive toothpaste that you won’t find in regular toothpaste. Potassium nitrate blocks pathways from the tooth surface to the inner pulp, protecting the tooth's nerves and effectively desensitising them to reduce discomfort. It can take between two to four weeks to notice an effect when brushing your teeth with sensitive toothpastes.


The best toothpaste for sensitive teeth should also contain fluoride, which strengthens weak or eroded enamel and helps to prevent the early signs of tooth decay from progressing. Although many over-the-counter toothpastes contain fluoride, your dentist can prescribe a high-strength fluoride toothpaste to treat tooth sensitivity. Many gel-form products, for example, contain a small percentage of stannous fluoride. Others contain a dose of sodium fluoride, and both can be prescribed by dentists to help relieve tooth discomfort.

Always check if your toothpaste contains fluoride. This is one of the most important toothpaste ingredients, as fluoride-free toothpaste won’t help to strengthen weak tooth enamel or fight against tooth decay. 

Enamel Repair

Once tooth enamel is lost it can’t be replaced, however, if your tooth enamel has minor damage that’s causing sensitivity, you can invest in an enamel repair toothpaste. This kind of toothpaste has remineralising properties and contains active toothpaste ingredients that strengthen teeth and repair existing white spots in tooth enamel. Some of the functions of remineralising toothpaste include:

  • Repairing tooth enamel weakened by acids
  • Protecting teeth from acid erosion
  • Strengthening tooth enamel
  • Preventing tooth decay
  • Keeping teeth white without using abrasive ingredients
  • Stopping acid-producing bacteria from forming and sticking to your teeth

Colgate Sensitive Instant Relief Repair + Enamel Strength Toothpaste remineralises your tooth enamel and repairs exposed tubules in the dentine that lead to sensitivity pain. Brush your teeth twice daily as normal, or massage the toothpaste directly into your sensitive tooth with a fingertip for 1 minute, twice daily. This can start to block the pain of sensitivity instantly!

SLS - Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

One of the toothpaste ingredients you may want to avoid if you have sensitive teeth is sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS. SLS is the surfactant found in many toothpastes that allows the product to foam up. If you see SLS on a list of toothpaste ingredients, you should know it’s perfectly safe to use, however, some people do have a sodium lauryl sulfate sensitivity. If you already suffer from sensitive teeth, have particularly sensitive skin or get regular mouth ulcers you may find that it causes you some irritation. If SLS is something you want to avoid, SLS-free sensitive toothpaste is also available.

If your sensitive teeth are the result of one or more cavities, only a dentist can fix the problem – but you can help treat other causes of tooth sensitivity at home by brushing regularly with toothpaste for sensitive teeth. You may not be willing to brush sensitive teeth due to the initial discomfort, but over the long term, doing so twice a day with the right toothpaste will reduce your sensitivity. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and don't brush too hard. Your dentist may recommend other treatments such as scaling or gum grafts if the condition continues.

So many toothpastes and treatments are available for a sensitive mouth, so there's no need to live with discomfort. If you’ve tried toothpaste for sensitive teeth and still have ongoing problems, make an appointment with your dentist. In as little as two weeks, you can be back eating and drinking the food and drinks you enjoy!

*In-vitro on weakened enamel, remineralises weakened enamel and promotes repair of daily enamel erosion.



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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.