Colgate has two new sensitivity toothpastes: Colgate Sensitive Enamel Protect and Colgate Sensitive Multi Protection. Their introduction is a tremendous advantage for people with tooth sensitivity, increasing the options for effective sensitive toothpaste. Up to now the only sensitive toothpastes with tartar control were Sensodyne Full Protection and Sensodyne Tartar Control. If I recommend sensitive toothpaste I only recommend one with tartar control.

Toothpaste is not needed to clean teeth, but rather is used to apply appropriate chemistry: fluoride, tartar control or sensitivity protection. The sensitivity protection ingredient is identical among sensitive toothpastes (5% potassium nitrate), as is the fluoride. What is different is the inclusion of an effective tartar control ingredient, tetrasodium pyrophosphate (TSPP, also called sodium pyrophosphate).

Tartar control (aka tartar protection) reduces tartar 50%, and makes it notable easier to remove. Tartar, technically referred to as calculus, is actually bacteria that have not been removed brushing and flossing and harden (mineralize) on the teeth. When Crest first introduced tartar control (TSPP) about 1985 there was a lot of confusion about tartar control: that is was an abrasive – it’s not, that it caused sensitivity – it doesn’t. TSPP is a crystallization inhibitor, and it prevents the tartar from hardening. The growth of tartar on teeth is like a coral reef, and the rough surface that forms is what picks up stain (coffee, tea, cigarettes, etc.). Tartar is the only thing you need to have professionally cleaned from teeth, since you can remove all the plaque with brushing and flossing.

Q: Why does the package state that if the pain or sensitivity still persists after 4 weeks of use, we should visit the dentist?
A: The FDA requires this statement on the packaging of all over-the-counter desensitizing toothpastes. Sensitive teeth may indicate a more serious problem that may need to have prompt care by a dentist. Your dental professional may recommend that you use Sensodyne daily if he or she has ruled out other dental or medical issues.

Q: Is there anything I can do to avoid developing tooth sensitivity when I use whitening products (not toothpaste, but rather white strips, professional whitening trays)?
A: Recent 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

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