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Frequently Asked Questions

Do your teeth twinge when you eat or drink certain foods? Do you suffer from painful teeth due to tooth sensitivity? Is your sensitivity a daily problem or perhaps just an occasional annoyance? Chances are you have "dentine hypersensitivity", another name for sensitive teeth.

Sensitivity is a common dental problem. It's not a disease, but rather a condition that develops over time due to common factors such as receding gums and tooth grinding. Most sufferers are between 20 and 50 years old.

Tooth Sensitivity FAQs

What is tooth sensitivity? [+]

Sensitivity occurs when the dentine underneath the tooth enamel becomes exposed. When exposed dentine comes in contact with hot or cold, sweet, sour or even your toothbrush, it can trigger the nerve causing a short, sharp pain.

See "About Sensitive Teeth."

 

What causes sensitive teeth? [+]

Underneath the tooth's protective enamel coating is a highly porous layer called "dentine." Thousands of microscopic tubules run through the dentine. Once dentine is exposed, nerves within the dentine tubules can become susceptible to triggers such as cold food or drinks and respond with a short sharp pain.

See "What Causes Sensitive Teeth?"

How can I prevent sensitive teeth? [+]

Brushing with a sensitivity toothpaste such as Sensodyne is one way to protect against sensitivity. Another is to avoid brushing too hard and to use a soft-bristled toothbrush specially designed for sensitive teeth. Taking good care of your teeth and seeing your dentist regularly can also help protect against conditions that contribute to sensitivity, such as gum disease, tooth decay and gum recession.

See "Preventing Sensitivity."

What triggers sensitive teeth? [+]

Sensitive teeth can be caused by gum recession, loss of enamel or damage to teeth and gums. Temporary sensitivity can be caused by cosmetic professional or at-home whitening treatments. Sensitive teeth can hurt as a reaction to:

  • Cold foods or beverages
  • Hot foods or beverages
  • Sweet or sour (acidic) foods
  • Plaque and bacteria
  • Chemical stimulus
  • Dry mouth

 See "Sensitivity Triggers."

Is tooth sensitivity a common dental problem? [+]

Yes. Sensitive teeth affect 1 in 3 Canadians and can start at any time. Sensitive teeth may affect younger people as a result of changes in modern lifestyles and eating habits. As we consume more acidic food and drinks and snack more often during the day, we are more at risk of developing sensitive teeth. 

Is tooth sensitivity a sign of a more serious dental problem? [+]

Often, tooth sensitivity is nothing more than a nuisance. However, sensitive teeth may indicate an underlying dental problem requiring prompt care by a dentist. See your dentist as soon as possible for advice.

See "A Sign of Something More Serious?"

Can brushing too hard cause sensitive teeth? [+]

Yes. Brushing too hard can lead to receding gums. Over time, it can also lead to wearing away of the tooth, which is another way dentine becomes exposed, causing sensitivity.

See the "Sensodyne Toothbrush".

Can tooth whitening cause sensitivity? [+]

Tooth whitening treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Typically, the ingredients in the products used for whitening are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These are usually administered through a specially made tray (similar to a gum-shield). As the whitening agent is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter. Tooth sensitivity is widely recognized as being associated with tooth bleaching procedures. There is no exact science to predicting if you will experience sensitivity but reports suggest that up to 80% of patients using bleaching will experience some sensitivity. Be sure to discuss this with your dentist prior to any treatment.

See "Whitening Treatments and Sensitivity."

What are ‘vulnerable’ areas? [+]
Under the protective tooth enamel is dentine, a porous structure consisting of millions of tiny channels called tubules that run through the tooth to the centre containing nerves. Dentine is covered by enamel or by gum and - in a healthy mouth - shouldn't be exposed. Most people get exposed dentine through recession of the gums or through erosion, or due to a combination of both. When the dentine becomes exposed it creates vulnerable and sensitive areas.

Once exposed, changes in temperature brought on by hot and cold foods and drinks cause the fluid in these tiny pores to expand and contract. This process can irritate the nerve and bring on the pain of sensitive teeth. The sensation can range from a small twinge to a more severe shooting pain.

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Sensodyne Product FAQs

What is the #1 dentist-recommended toothpaste for sensitive teeth? [+]

Sensodyne is the #1 dentist recommended toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

How does Sensodyne work? [+]

Sensodyne's potassium formulations (Base Sensodyne Products) work at the source of the pain by blocking pain signals from the nerve. In other words, Sensodyne depolarizes the nerve. Dentists recommend using Sensodyne twice a day just as you would use your normal toothpaste.

Sensodyne toothpastes work with active ingredients such as NovaMin® (Repair and Protect) or strontium acetate (Rapid Relief) to relieve the pain of sensitive teeth.  Sensodyne Repair & Protect has advanced patented NovaMin® technology, which is scientifically proven to repair sensitive teeth by forming a tooth-like layer over exposed dentine to help continually repair and protect sensitive areas. It actually seeks out and repairs vulnerable areas that cause the occasional twinges of sensitivity.  Sensodyne Rapid Relief contains strontium acetate, which is an element similar to calcium. The strontium in Sensodyne Rapid Relief replaces some of the calcium lost from the dentine and blocks the exposed tubules within the dentinal tissue. This prevents the flow of the fluid within the tubules that would otherwise cause tooth pain.

How often should I use Sensodyne? [+]

Use Sensodyne twice a day, every day, in place of your regular toothpaste for ongoing protection from tooth sensitivity.

How long will I use Sensodyne before I notice less sensitivity? [+]

Sensodyne should be used twice a day, every day to ensure maximum effectiveness. With most Sensodyne products, you should start to notice a difference in as little as two weeks.  For fast relief, you can use Sensodyne Rapid Relief, which works in 60 seconds when used as directed. Your dental professional is likely to recommend that you use Sensodyne as your regular everyday toothpaste because tooth sensitivity is frequently a recurring condition.

Once I stop using Sensodyne, will my tooth sensitivity return? [+]

Whether or not the pain will return depends on the individual. To stop the pain from coming back, your dental professional may recommend replacing your regular toothpaste with Sensodyne and using it twice a day, every day.

Why should children under 12 consult a dentist before using Sensodyne? [+]

The Sensodyne variations for sensitive teeth are not formulated or recommended for children under the age of 12.  Sensitivity is rarely a problem for children that young. Check with your child's dentist to get the proper recommendation.

Is Sensodyne available as a travel-sized tube? [+]

Sensodyne is available in a travel-sized tube in major retail outlets.

Can I use mouthwash after brushing with Sensodyne? [+]

Yes, you may use mouthwash or eat or drink after using Sensodyne.

Why should I use a Sensodyne toothbrush? [+]

Sensodyne toothbrushes are suitable for people with sensitive teeth and include features such as softer bristles for gentle brushing, round-ended bristles to help prevent gum irritation and special sizing for access inside the mouth. Use a Sensodyne toothbrush in conjunction with Sensodyne toothpastes to help clean and care for your sensitive teeth.

Where can I purchase Sensodyne toothbrushes? [+]

Sensodyne toothbrushes are available in the oral care section of most major drug and grocery retailers.

Can Sensodyne be dabbed on a sensitive tooth for immediate relief? [+]

Sensodyne Rapid Relief can be dabbed on for relief within 60 seconds (when used as directed). For other Sensodyne varieties, there is no clinical evidence to support dabbing as an effective means of application.

What is the Relative Dentin Abrasion (RDA) for Sensodyne? [+]

Typically, Sensodyne toothpastes have an RDA in the range of 45 - 125, depending on variants (and market).

Do Sensodyne tooth-whitening formulas actually bleach as well as relieve sensitivity? [+]

Sensodyne whitening formulas do not bleach. They contain a matrix of polishing and cleaning ingredients which all contribute to the cleaning and whitening effect. Sensodyne variants contain clinically proven desensitising active ingredients.

Is Sensodyne safe to use during tooth-whitening treatments? [+]

Yes. Research has shown that using Sensodyne two weeks before and during the whitening process can significantly:

  • Reduce the chances that tooth sensitivity will develop.
  • Increase "sensitivity-free" days.
  • Improve overall satisfaction with the whitening process.
What is Sensodyne iso-active? [+]

Sensodyne iso-active® foaming gel is a unique technology in toothpaste. Its delivery system disperses the toothpaste quickly, penetrating those critical, hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. 

Sensodyne iso-active® is delivered in a canister format, and its gel-to-foam action is a result of the inclusion of isopentane. Isopentane responds to increases in temperature caused by the warmth of the mouth. The active gel is stored in a special internal bag inside the can, known as "bag on valve" technology. When the can's nozzle is pressed, the pressure forces the gel out of the can. In the warmth of the mouth during brushing, the gel transforms into an active micro-fine foam, generating twice the foam volume as ordinary toothpaste and penetrating hard-to-reach places.

What is isopentane? [+]

In Sensodyne iso-active®, isopentane is the ingredient that responds to the heat of your mouth, transforming the toothpaste gel into a micro-fine foam.

Is isopentane safe to use in a toothpaste? [+]

Isopentane is a common ingredient used safely in a range of health and beauty products, including body wash and shaving gels produced by some of the world's leading global brands. Scientific evidence and experience of use of isopentane in a range of personal care products around the globe all support the safety and effectiveness of isopentane when used as indicated.

Can I brush for a shorter amount of time when using iso-active? [+]

Although Sensodyne iso-active® generates twice the foam of regular toothpaste to quickly disperse active ingredients, it is still recommended to brush twice a day, every day, for two minutes, or as directed by a dental professional.

Does iso-active run out faster than ordinary toothpastes? It seems like it won't last as long as a tube. [+]

Each canister of Sensodyne iso-active® contains 100mL of toothpaste, the same amount as a standard 100mL tube.

Does iso-active contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) [+]

No. Sensodyne iso-active® is pressurised within the canister using compressed nitrogen, which is an environmentally friendly propellant.

Can iso-active be recycled? [+]

Please contact your local recycling facility to understand recycling capabilities in your area. The packaging components of Sensodyne iso-active® are similar to those found in standard shaving gel aerosol canisters.

How long should I use Sensodyne Repair & Protect before I notice less sensitivity? [+]

Repair provides clinically proven relief with twice daily brushing.

How does Sensodyne Repair & Protect work? [+]

Sensodyne Repair & Protect is a product that can actually repair the sensitive areas of your teeth. It contains advanced NovaMin technology, originally developed for bone repair and currently used in a variety of professional dental products. This technology has now been adapted for use in daily toothpaste to seek out and help repair sensitive teeth that can cause those sudden, unexpected twinges of sensitivity. 

What is NOVAMIN®? [+]
NOVAMIN® is made from elements naturally found in healthy teeth and bone: Calcium; Phosphate; and Sodium. NOVAMIN® particles start to react when they come into contact with water or saliva, charge and become attracted to areas where dentine is exposed.
What difference does this protective layer make? [+]
Used twice daily, Sensodyne Repair & Protect is proven to continuously help repair, strengthen and protect your teeth from future episodes of sensitivity.
How do I use Sensodyne Repair & Protect? [+]

Please always follow label instructions.  For long lasting protection, brush thoroughly, twice daily for two minutes.

What does Repair & Protect taste like? [+]
The fresh minty taste leaves your mouth feeling clean and refreshed.

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