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Dental hypersensitivity in the office and at home

Date: May 2021

Author: Natalie Bradley BDS Dip SCD MFDS RCSEd

Dental hypersensitivity (DHS) is something we encounter in the dental office every day. The degree of severity can vary, but for some patients, DHS can limit what they are able to eat and drink, impacting their quality of life.

However, around 50% of patients with DHS do not communicate their symptoms to their dentist. All dental professionals therefore need to pro-actively screen their patients for DHS and offer solutions to help manage this condition.

What causes DHS?

Dentin hypersensitivity happens when the dentin of the tooth is exposed and open dentinal tubules are present. Certain stimuli, such as hot or cold foods, are able to elicit movement of fluid within the dentin tubules, causing the nerve endings to be stimulated and resulting in the classic short, sharp pain of DHS.

Dentin can become exposed as a result of several factors:

  • Over-enthusiastic toothbrushing.
  • Gingival recession.
  • Periodontal disease.
  • Periodontal disease treatment.
  • Dental erosion, caused by acidic foods and drinks, gastric reflux, repeated vomiting in people with eating disorders, etc.

How can DHS be managed?

Unfortunately, around 56% of patients are not satisfied with the solutions recommended to them by their dental professionals to manage DHS. With Colgate's new Pro-Argin technology, you may be able to change that.

Pro-Argin technology features arginine, an amino acid naturally found in saliva. The arginine and calcium (from calcium carbonate) form a positively charged complex that binds to the negatively charged dentin surface like a magnet. The complex instantly occludes the open dentin tubules to stop hypersensitivity pain in its tracks, and builds a strong, calcium-rich layer to provide ongoing protection from DHS, even after further acid attacks.

Pro-Argin technology is available in Colgate's Sensitive Instant Relief Toothpaste for use at home. Compared to a desensitizing toothpaste containing 2% potassium ion as the desensitizing agent, brushing with the 8% arginine calcium carbonate formulation was found to be significantly more effective at reducing dentin hypersensitivity. From the very first use, this formulation has been shown to provide a 60.5% reduction in pain, with an 80.5% reduction after just eight weeks. The toothpaste can also be used for immediate, on-the-spot relief from hypersensitivity when applied with a fingertip, again proving more effective than toothpaste containing 2% potassium ion. Also marketed as elmex® Sensitive Professional Toothpaste, reduced pain and improved quality of life is found for patients suffering from DHS.

There is also a role for Pro-Argin technology within the dental office. Before or during dental treatment that might stimulate DHS, such as scaling, you can apply a Pro-Argin serum like Colgate Professional Sensitivity Relief Serum or elmex Sensitive Professional (eSP) On the Go for relief in less than one minute. The patient can also take the product away with them and continue using it to relieve DHS at home or on the go.

When both the Pro-Argin toothpaste and serum are used together, your patients can experience instant, long-lasting relief from dentin hypersensitivity anywhere, anytime. When compared to an in-office pumice prophylaxis and a non-desensitising home-use toothpaste, the combination of Pro-Argin products has been shown to provide superior and maintained relief from DHS.