Managing tooth sensitivity in the office and at home

DATE: Sep 29, 2017
AUTHOR: Susanna Scherer RDH

Tooth sensitivity is a common complaint from patients. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, 12.3 percent of responding patients were diagnosed with dentin hypersensitivity. Dental hygienists analyze the patient history, X-rays and any current symptoms to determine the cause of the sensitivity. Once dental caries and all other problems have been ruled out, it can be concluded that the patient is experiencing dentin hypersensitivity.

You still need to treat your patients to relieve their dentin hypersensitivity and can help them with recommendations for at home. Read on to learn how to provide your patients with the proper in-office treatment and product recommendations for them to use when brushing their teeth.

In-Office Relief

Patients who experience dentin hypersensitivity can be a challenge for dental hygienists. We want to provide the best care possible. But when we have a patient who is experiencing sensitivity, it can be challenging to work on them. When a patient is concerned about tooth sensitivity, he or she may be tense or jumpy, making it very difficult for the dental hygienist to thoroughly debride these areas.

Over-the-Counter Relief

Once you complete your in-office treatment, you should make recommendations so that your patient can get relief from dentin hypersensitivity at home. Toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate can relieve sensitivity, according to the American Dental Association. Potassium nitrate blocks the neural response to stimuli that causes us to experience dentin sensitivity.

Fluoride is also an important ingredient to look for in products to recommend for these patients. Fluoride strengthens the enamel and protects against dental caries. An excellent OTC product for patients experiencing dentin hypersensitivity is the great tasting, Colgate® Sensitive Toothpaste. Patients are more likely to continue use of products when they are affordable and they enjoy the clean, fresh taste.


  • Analyze your patient's overall oral health to determine the cause of sensitivity.
  • Provide patients with in-office sensitivity relief so that you can provide the best possible care.
  • Recommend affordable, fresh-tasting and effective at-home products to increase the chances of patient compliance and ongoing relief from dentin sensitivity.

Why It's Valuable

When patients experience relief from tooth sensitivity we are able to provide the best care possible in office and they can lead a normal, pain-free life.

References: Often patients report that they are experiencing tooth sensitivity. After we rule out dental caries or other problems, we can treat the patient for dentin hypersensitivity. Colgate has products dental professionals can use to treat the patient in the office and for patients to use at home.