A woman with sensitive teeth drinking ice water

The Best Toothpaste For Sensitive Teeth: What's In It?

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Good oral hygiene helps to keep your teeth healthy. But if you're staying away from your favorite hot and cold treats because of tooth sensitivity, then adding a toothpaste with the right ingredients to your dental routine can help relieve the discomfort and have you enjoying that ice-cream tub in weeks!

So what causes tooth sensitivity? Teeth contain a soft, nerve-filled center, and a layer of dentin covers the pulp that exists at this level. Over the dentin lies enamel, covering teeth above the gum, and cementum coats your tooth roots below the crown. Enamel and cementum protect the inner tooth, but when they erode or break down, the pulp nerves have little to no protection from the temperature changes in the mouth - causing your teeth to become sensitive.

Although some people have naturally thin tooth enamel, there are other causes of eroded or broken enamel:

  • Tooth decay
  • Brushing aggressively
  • Using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Consuming highly acidic foods and beverages
  • Tooth grinding
  • Receding gums
  • Some dental procedures like teeth whitening (this effect is temporary)

Ingredients in Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

Depending on the cause of your tooth sensitivity, brushing regularly with a toothpaste that's gentle on sensitive teeth might be all the treatment you need. The best kinds of toothpaste for sensitive teeth contain ingredients that help strengthen tooth enamel and protect the nerves from discomfort often caused by hot and cold foods. Here are some ingredients to look for when searching for the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth:


Arginine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in saliva. When combined with calcium, arginine creates a protective layer that seals and plugs open dentinal tubules - the part of the tooth that is beneath enamel and cementum. This protective buffer can withstand exposure to acids to give you more extended relief from tooth sensitivity.

Potassium Nitrate

This ingredient is not found in regular toothpaste but is a unique compound found in toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Potassium Nitrate blocks pathways from the tooth surface to the inner pulp, protecting the tooth's nerves and effectively desensitizing them to reduce discomfort. But, it will take several uses before you start feeling the difference.


Fluoride strengthens weak or eroded enamel and helps to prevent the early signs of tooth decay from progressing. Most over-the-counter kinds of toothpaste include fluoride, but you can consult with your dentist for a high-strength fluoride toothpaste that can help with tooth sensitivity in particular. Many gel-like products have a small percentage of stannous fluoride. Others with a dose of sodium fluoride, both types of fluoride kinds of toothpaste, can be recommended by your dentist to help ease the pain of tooth sensitivity.

Caring for Sensitive Teeth

Painful stings from a sip of a cold beverage can be a thing of the past. Brush your teeth twice a day with a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, using a soft-bristled toothbrush - and remember always to be gentle! Making these small changes to your oral care could have you pain-free in weeks.


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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.

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