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How Effective is Your Toothpaste?

There are many different types of toothpaste on the market, all of which promise their users clean and white teeth. Some varieties offer protection to “sensitive” teeth. However, consumers may question the ability of these products to both clean teeth and at the same time protect them.

The Reason for Tooth Sensitivity

Enamel is the outermost layer that gives teeth their whitish appearance and also protects them from the elements. The enamel is subjected to grinding, usually when chewing, and to food products that contain acidic substances. The situation can be made worse by the smoking or chewing tobacco products. This ongoing abuse can tear down the enamel, thus introducing the elements to the inner portion of the tooth, known as the dentin.
Sensitivity can also be related to dental decay, to the excessive use of products designed to promote tooth whitening and to periodontitis, a condition in which the gums literally recede from the teeth. The sensitivity is usually noticed during the consumption of food or liquid products that are excessively hot or cold, and can be severe if the condition reaches the nerve ends within a tooth.

The Promise of Desensitizing Toothpaste

Dentifrices, whether they come in the form of liquids, powders or pastes, contain a number of ingredients that benefit the teeth in different ways. These ingredients normally include polishing agents that are responsible for actually cleaning away food debris and plaque that will in time accumulate on the teeth, along with fluoride that has the role of strengthening the enamel. Additionally, these products usually contain flavoring material that will make them somewhat pleasant to use.
A desensitizing toothpaste contains certain ingredients designed to specifically address the sensitivity issue. It does this by essentially blocking the route to the dentin. Arginine and calcium are particularly effective in plugging the pores within the enamel. Some types of desensitizing toothpaste contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which have similar effects.

Obtaining the Desired Results

The right type of toothpaste should safely reduce tooth sensitivity in a matter of weeks. However, these products only treat the symptoms and not the underlying cause of the problem. Dental sensitivity may in some cases require professional assistance.
In addition to the type, the method by which the toothpaste is used is important when trying to reduce sensitivity. The user should consider retaining the product in his or her mouth for several minutes after brushing. Flossing is also an important part of dental care by the way it can prevent the gums from moving away from the teeth. Anyone considering a desensitizing toothpaste should only use a product accepted by the American Dental Association and should first seek professional advice.