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Best Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth: Fast-Acting, Natural, and Fluoride-Free Options

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sensitive teeth tooth paste
With so many choices, it's hard to know where to begin your search.

Trying to find the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth? Now when there are so many brands with so many products to choose from, it can be a daunting task to find the one desensitizing toothpaste that is right for you.

We at Dentaly.org understand that you may not have a lot of time to research what toothpaste is best for those with a sensitive mouth. That's why we've put together a short list of top picks for you to look over. The focus here is on sensitive toothpaste, but there are a few more categories to consider. We hope that this list will help you take all factors into account and ultimately know which toothpaste is best for your sensitive teeth.

For a bit of background on the subject, let's talk about the causes of tooth sensitivity and how you can avoid it through proper oral hygiene.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Sensitivity in teeth can be caused by several different things, and some people naturally have more sensitive teeth than others. When we say sensitive teeth, really we are referring to the fact that the nerves of the tooth are exposed to more stimuli than normal. Usually, certain types of foods are what cause your nerve to feel that pain or discomfort. These include:

  • Ice cream
  • Candy
  • Coffee
  • Soft drinks
  • Fruits
  • Pickled or acidic food

This exposure often results from the deterioration of tooth enamel due to aggressive brushing or using a toothbrush with hard bristles. When the outer layer of enamel wears out there is an exposed layer of dentin full of microscopic tubes (or tubules) that then allow different substances to stimulate the nerve in your tooth.

Sensitivity can also be cause by inadequate brushing, which leads to periodontitis. This disease of the gums progresses as plaque and tartar accumulate, causing gums to slowly separate from teeth and eventually become infected. The resulting damage to your teeth and soft tissue therefore allows more substances to make contact with the nerve.

Toothpaste alone won't solve all of your sensitivity woes. Following through with regular dental checkups will help identify any underlying problems such as tooth decay or gum disease that need to be addressed. However, if your teeth are in good condition and certain food or drink is still making you think twice, these toothpastes may be helpful for you.

Have a look at this video for another explanation from the ADA of the causes and treatments for sensitive teeth.

How does sensitive toothpaste work?

Sensitive toothpastes make use of certain compounds that have different effects on your teeth. Some, like stannous fluoride, block those exposed tubules by reacting with your enamel layer and strengthening it. Others directly desensitize the nerve endings in your tooth. The most common example of this type of compound is potassium nitrate.

If you have sensitive teeth, buying a toothpaste with potassium nitrate and/or stannous fluoride is probably the best option for you. There are other toothpastes for sensitive teeth with different ingredients, but those two are the best known and most trusted. However, you may want to use another toothpaste due to certain preferences or an allergy. In that case there are still plenty of options to choose from.

Most popular toothpastes for sensitive teeth

So without further ado, let's get into the best toothpastes for sensitive teeth and gums. Below we have written which toothpastes are popular for specific needs, as well as what makes them stand out. Before you dive, in here's a table to provide you with a quick overview.

Toothpaste Image Best Active ingredients Price
Sensodyne Rapid Relief style= Fast-acting Stannous fluoride
Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening style= Whitening Potassium nitrate, sodium fluoride
Parodontax style= Bleeding and sensitive gums Stannous fluoride
Colgate Sensitive Prevent & Repair style= Overall Potassium nitrate, sodium fluoride
Tom's of Maine, Rapid Relief Sensitive style= Fluoride-free Arginine bicarbonate, calcium carbonate
Apagard Premio style= Remineralizing Hydroxyapatite
BioMin C style= Remineralizing, fluoride-free Hydroxyapatite

Best overall toothpaste for sensitive teeth

Our find for best overall is Colgate Sensitive Toothpaste Complete Protection. It excels in covering all the basics:


  • This toothpaste contains the maximum allowed concentration of potassium nitrate for sensitive teeth without requiring a prescription.
  • It also promises 24/7 protection from tooth sensitivity as long as you are maintaining a regular routine of brushing twice a day.
  • It delivers results at a very reasonable price.

Take into account that it is easy to find online or in store and you can see why this is a great go-to pick. It's also no surprise that the best overall toothpaste for sensitive teeth comes from Colgate, America's leading brand of toothpaste for decades.

Best toothpaste for fast relief

When you have really severe sensitivity, you might want to opt for Sensodyne Rapid Relief.

This toothpaste is designed to significantly reduce the sensitivity in your teeth after only three days of regular brushing. Because it is focused on relief, it isn't as well suited for long-term enamel maintenance and repair. That said, those who are suffering from their sensitivity could consider keeping this around for quick relief and use another toothpaste for long-term protection.

Best whitening toothpaste

The top pick for best sensitivity toothpaste with whitening also comes from Sensodyne. Although many whitening toothpastes have ingredients that can actively degrade your tooth enamel, Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Teeth Whitening Enamel Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth is designed to gently whiten your teeth.

You may wonder why if this toothpaste works for sensitivity and whitening, why bother with other Sensodyne products that don't claim to do as much?

Well, if you are considering the benefits of Rapid Relief Sensodyne versus Pronamel, it's pretty simple. Rapid Relief is formulated to provide effective relief to your teeth in just a few days. That formula, however, is not optimal for long-term care for your tooth enamel, like Pronamel.

Let's talk about Sensodyne

Sensodyne is perhaps the best known brand of toothpaste for sensitive teeth in the US. They offer a range of options for sensitive teeth, some of which provide fast relief for sensitivity and others that are oriented toward long-term treatment. Sensodyne also offers specialized products like fluoride-free or whitening toothpastes for sensitive teeth, among many others.

In other words, Sensodyne designs their products to focus on certain specific needs of your teeth, so really there is no single “best” Sensodyne toothpaste that will outperform all others. While many brands have toothpastes which promise to do it all, they may not be as effective for one problem or another.

However, there are some brands that do closely compete with Sensodyne.

Parodontax vs. Sensodyne

Many people prefer Parodontax over Sensodyne. This could be because they have found it gives them better results, because it's what they have always used, or they just prefer the branding. Although Parodontax is also a fine toothpaste, it may be better described as the best toothpaste for sensitive gums. This brand is known for tartar and plaque control, and gum health in general, more than relief for tooth sensitivity.

Sensodyne vs. Colgate

Colgate is one of America's favorite brands of toothpaste. In fact, a Kantar Worldpanel study said that in 2015 it was the only brand to be purchased by over half of all households worldwide. This is not by accident. They have been producing oral hygiene products, including toothpaste, for more than a century and have had time to develop a wide offering including toothpastes, brushes, floss, whitening strips, and much more.

The main way that Sensodyne stands out next to such a ubiquitous brand is that they have a singular focus: toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Sure, there are plenty to choose from, but in the end you can buy any Sensodyne product without looking past the brand and still know that it is designed with sensitive teeth in mind.

Best fluoride-free/natural toothpaste for sensitive teeth

The top natural toothpaste we found is Tom's of Maine Natural Rapid Relief Sensitive Toothpaste. It uses arginine bicarbonate to cover the microscopic tubules in dentin, much like most brands use stannous fluoride. This means that anyone avoiding fluoride because of an allergy or any other reason will be able to find sensitivity relief with this product.

Beyond the fact that it doesn't contain fluoride, Tom's of Maine's natural toothpaste has other bonuses. It is totally vegan, without any animal products, and is not tested using any animals whatsoever. Therefore, even if you don't have a problem with fluoride itself, it is a great choice for the conscientious buyer.

Hydroxyapatite toothpastes

Some newer toothpastes on the market use an active ingredient known as hydroxyapatite instead of fluoride. This is a compound that exists in your natural tooth enamel, helping replenish it through a process call remineralization. Because it is a new method for treating sensitivity and decay, there aren't many brands that offer this type of toothpaste.

Apagard

The best known toothpaste for sensitive teeth that uses this compound is Apagard. At over $15 for a tube it's also fairly expensive and could even be called a luxury toothpaste. For that reason it is hard to consider it among the best, though time may show that hydroxyapatite really does work better than traditional compounds.

Until then, this toothpaste gets an honorable mention as a new option among fluoride-free products, but the jury is out on whether it's worth the price.

BioMin

Another brand that employs hydroxyapatite for remineralization is BioMin. It works differently, however, by providing your teeth with calcium and phosphate to stimulate your tooth's production of hydroxyapatite.

More research is needed to know if this method works better than including hydroxyapatite itself in the toothpaste. However, there is one advantage that BioMin has over Apagard, and that is the price. You can find a tube of BioMin online for under $10, much less than its competitor. That said, it's still a fairly new product and may not be easy to find in stores.

If you are buying it to avoid fluoride, be sure that you purchase BioMin C—they also have a BioMin F formula that uses hydroxyapatite along with a small amount non-soluble fluoride, which absorbs into your teeth as part of the aforementioned process.

Conclusion

To sum up, there are tons of toothpaste options for people suffering from sensitive teeth. Colgate's Sensitive Toothpaste Complete Protection offers both sensitivity relief and enamel care at a very affordable price. That said, there are other factors that may tip the scales in favor of another toothpaste, including:

  • Fluoride allergy
  • Need for whitening
  • Preference for 100% animal-free products
  • Severe sensitivity

In the end any toothpaste with potassium nitrate and/or stannous fluoride should help with your sensitivity. No matter which one you choose, the most important thing is to use it to keep up a proper oral hygiene routine!

FAQs

Is Sensodyne toothpaste good for your teeth?

Yes. In fact, any popular toothpaste would be considered good for your teeth as long as it is used correctly. Sensodyne brand toothpastes are known particularly for helping with sensitive teeth but, like any toothpaste, won't be very effective unless you brush with them twice a day.

Is Sensodyne safe to use everyday?

Yes. Any over-the-counter toothpaste is fine for daily use as long as you remember to only brush twice a day. Excessive brushing with any toothpaste can cause enamel degradation, leading to increased sensitivity.

Does Sensodyne have fluoride?

Sensodyne has many different toothpastes that you can find, and most of them do contain a certain amount of fluoride. They also, however, make a toothpaste without fluoride for those who wish to avoid it.

Is fluoride in toothpaste bad for you?

Though there are some people who should avoid fluoride, generally the answer is no. Fluoride is one of the compounds that has been used the longest to strengthen teeth. In fact, many cities will treat their water supply with fluoride, a practice which has been observed to reduce tooth decay in the population. Some people do have an allergy to fluoride, and therefore can suffer negative effects of fluoride in toothpaste.

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Sources
Kantar Worldpanel: Colgate bought by over half of the world’s households. Consulted September 14, 2020 ADA: Sensitive Teeth: Causes and Treatment. Consulted September 14, 2020 ADA: Toothpastes. Consulted September 15, 2020
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