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Best Toothpaste For Sensitive Teeth

Best toothpaste for sensitive teeth

In this article I explain what causes tooth sensitivity and how to avoid it, and recommend some good toothpastes to choose from.

If you don’t need a sensitive toothpaste specifically, you may find our more generalised best toothpaste article more helpful.

And to see our full range of toothpaste content, visit our toothpaste hub page, which lists all of our content in an easy-to-find format.

What is tooth sensitivity?

A short, sharp pain from the tooth in response to being exposed to hot and cold, or sometimes to sweet and spicy foods. Sometimes the sensitivity also occurs when the tooth is touched, e.g. when brushing the teeth.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

Ultimately, tooth sensitivity is caused by exposed dentin tubules (the nerves that sense pain lie within these parts of the tooth). A change in hot/cold/pH etc causes movement of the nerve within the tubule, which causes a pain signal to be sent to your brain.

The real question is how do dentin tubules become exposed?

Causes of dentin exposure (and therefore tooth sensitivity) include:

  • Gum disease: Gum recession due to gingivitis and periodontitis.
  • Damage at the gum line caused by over brushing. This can cause both gum recession to expose the dentin and also wears away the enamel on the tooth surface, to expose dentin.
  • Grinding habits: Wearing away the enamel layer due to bruxism will expose the dentin tubules.
  • Dental treatment: Tooth whitening can cause temporary sensitivity. Professional cleaning and fillings can also lead to sensitivity.

Key tips for avoiding sensitivity

  1. Gum health is key. Avoid gum disease to avoid gum recession. Brush twice daily and use some form of interdental cleaning every day.
  2. Avoid over brushing. Being mindful of how you brush to make sure you do not press too hard with the brush. Using an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor can help to monitor this.
  3. Minimise tooth wear by avoiding acidic foods and drinks.
  4. Use a specialised sensitivity toothpaste to manage any symptoms you may have.

Most people experience some sort of sensitivity at some point in their lives, and normally this is nothing to worry about. But if it carries on for over a week, or suddenly gets a lot worse, make sure you get it checked by a dental professional.

When to start using a specialist sensitive toothpaste

If you only get occasional sensitivity, it may not affect you enough to start using a sensitivity toothpaste.

There are actually very few downsides to using a sensitive toothpaste if you don’t need it, but they do tend to be a bit more expensive than a regular toothpaste.

Just beware that because sensitivity can be caused by several different reasons, only treating tooth sensitivity (without knowing what is causing it) can be dangerous. For example, if there is actually decay and that is causing the sensitivity, it may get better temporarily with toothpaste, but long term it could develop into a painful abscess.

So, if you have had your teeth checked by the dentist and they have confirmed no underlying cause for the sensitivity then it may be time to start a sensitive toothpaste.

This is especially true if the symptoms are starting to bother you, and you feel that you need to start changing your diet or lifestyle, then it may be time to start using a specialist sensitive toothpaste.

There is no need to suffer in silence as there are plenty of different toothpastes to help!

How to choose a sensitive toothpaste

The best sensitivity toothpastes included on this page have been selected using the guidelines below:

  1. They contain fluoride (unless they are specifically in the fluoride free category)
  2. They contain one of the active ingredients for preventing and treating sensitivity.
  3. They are non abrasive (to avoid worsening any tooth wear related sensitivity). This means an RDA of 250 or below.

Different toothpastes do have different active ingredients. You need to give them a couple of weeks to see if they do have an effect. 

If one particular paste doesn’t work, don’t fear – there are plenty more to try. For some people it is simply a case of trial and error to find the perfect sensitive toothpaste. 

A final tip, is that over time you may become “immune” to the toothpaste (it has less of an effect). If this is the case, simply switch brands for a few weeks or months and then you can switch back again.

If you are shopping for a toothpaste that is not included on this page, use the advice above as a guideline.

I have included some further advice on choosing a toothpaste on our toothpaste hub page.

The best sensitive toothpaste: 5 good options

To keep things simple, immediately below I have included 5 good toothpaste choices if you have sensitive teeth.

I then compare some other options further down the page, and look at good sensitive toothpastes in specific categories — natural, whitening and fluoride-free.

I’ve also included a longer list of sensitive toothpastes at the bottom of this page.

Biomin F

Biomin F toothpaste

BioMin F is an award winning sensitivity toothpaste and because of this, has made it to this list. 

This paste was developed in the UK, and is definitely worth a try if regular sensitivity toothpastes aren’t cutting it for you. In fact, studies have shown relief for up to 90% of patients suffering from sensitivity.

The bonus with this is the remineralisation effect of fluoride too (Biomin C is available without fluoride).

The only real downside of this toothpaste is trying to get hold of it – there are a couple of stockists available online who will deliver to you directly, or you may need to find a dentist who stocks the product.

Pros

  • Active ingredient: calcium and phosphate ions
  • Low abrasive toothpaste, with an RDA value of 68
  • No animal-derived products
  • No animal testing
  • Contains fluoride
  • Suitable for daily use
  • Oral Health Foundation approved

Cons

  • Only available online from select retailers

Where to buy

Price comparison

  • 75ml
  • Approx. $11 / tube
  • $$

Colgate Sensitive Pro-relief

Colgate Sensitive Pro-relief

Colgate Sensitive Pro-relief is one of the very few toothpastes making use of the beneficial effects of arginine. There are a number of different varieties of Colgate Sensitive Pro-relief, and you could try any one of the following (all of which contain arginine as the active ingredient):

  • Complete
  • Enamel
  • Lasting Fresh
  • + Whitening
  • Original
  • Repair and Prevent
  • Smart White
  • Whitening

There is little difference between the ingredients lists of each of these products, so your preference may depend on what tastes better to you, or even what is on offer in the shops.

Pros

  • Active ingredient: arginine
  • Contains fluoride
  • Widely available in stores and online retailers
  • Suitable for daily use
  • Affordable
  • Canadian Dental Association Oral Health Seal Product

Cons

  • No information on animal testing or animal derived ingredients

Where to buy

Price Comparison

  • 120ml
  • Approx $6-7 / tube
  • $$

Sensodyne Daily Care

Sensodyne daily care toothpaste

Sensodyne is known for its sensitivity toothpastes, but it uses two different active ingredients: stannous fluoride or potassium nitrate. I have included Sensodyne Daily Care here as it is one of the cheapest potassium nitrate containing toothpastes.

The Sensodyne Daily Care range includes five different varieties: Fresh Mint, Multi Action, Multi Action Whitening, Ultra Fresh, Deep Clean. They all contain Potassium Nitrate and so are all equally effective at reducing your sensitivity.  The ingredients lists are largely the same, apart from:

  • Fresh Mint has an additional colouring (D&C yellow #10) which serves no additional function in the toothpaste
  • Multi Action Plus Whitening has additional sodium methyl cocoyl taurate (a foaming agent) and sodium tripolyphosphate for additional help removing stains 
  • Deep Clean is a gel as opposed to a paste which has SLS added to increase the foaming action and therefore the clean feeling after brushing. It also has SLS sodium tripolyphosphate, 

My recommendation would be to stick to Sensodyne Daily Care Multi Action or Ultra Fresh to minimise the number of ingredients. You could even go for the Multi Action Whitening version to help reduce staining, and to avoid the paste with SLS and unnecessary colourants.

For an alternative, you could check out our list of other sensitive toothpastes, which shows the Sensodyne toothpastes that contain potassium nitrate.

Pros

  • SLS free.
  • Widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies.
  • Contains fluoride
  • Also helps relieve sensitivity.
  • Protection against erosion from acids.

Cons

  • Use of single use plastics
  • Not vegan

Where to buy

Price comparison

  • 135mL  tube
  • Approx $5 / tube
  • $

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Complete Protection Toothpaste

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Complete Protection Toothpaste

I have included Arm and Hammer sensitive toothpaste because of its affordability. It contains potassium nitrate to help manage sensitivity, the same as other leading brands, but comes in at a much lower price.

The other nice thing about this toothpaste is that it also includes baking soda, so is likely to also have additional anti-tartar effect as well as helping to gently remove staining and protect the gums.

Pros

  • Active ingredient: potassium nitrate
  • Multiple benefits from baking soda
  • Contains fluoride
  • Widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies
  • Suitable for daily use
  • Affordable
  • Low RDA

Cons

  • No information on animal testing or animal derived ingredients

Price Comparison

  • 120ml tube
  • Approx. $3 / tube
  • $

Crest Pro-health range

Crest Pro-health toothpaste

I have included this toothpaste as one of the best toothpastes for sensitive teeth because the stannous fluoride it contains actually is proven to have multiple benefits, including bad breath control, plaque/gingivitis control, sensitivity control, and stain removal It’s hard not to like that!

Crest claims this toothpaste “Starts working on sensitivity immediately for relief within days and starts working immediately by blocking tubules”, which can only be a benefit for this toothpaste. But don’t be surprised if it takes several days or even weeks to gain a full benefit.

Crest Pro-Health Clean Mint and Whitening varieties both have the CDA Seal.

Pros

  • Active ingredient: stannous fluoride
  • Multiple benefits from stannous fluoride
  • Contains fluoride for protection against cavities
  • Widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies
  • Suitable for daily use
  • Affordable
  • Canadian Dental Association Oral Health Seal Product

Cons

  • No information on animal testing or animal derived ingredients

Where to buy

Price Comparison

  • 130ml
  • Approx. $3 per tube
  • $

Best natural toothpaste for sensitive teeth 

Natural toothpastes are generally free from any unnecessary chemicals and artificial ingredients. If you are looking for a natural toothpaste that is effective against sensitivity, I would recommend:

  • Hello sensitivity with fluoride (view on Amazon). The active ingredient is potassium nitrate, and it also contains aloe vera. The paste is free from artificial sweeteners and flavors, and is also SLS free, as well as being vegan and cruelty free.
  • Aloe Dent (view on Amazon) – is naturally soothing due to aloe and tea tree oil. The toothpaste comes in fluoride containing and fluoride free varieties. It is SLS free, and is not tested on animals.

Best whitening toothpaste for sensitive teeth 

Actual whitening treatments can cause tooth sensitivity, but what about whitening toothpastes you can use at home? Well bear in mind that these will only remove stains, and will not lighten the overall colour of your teeth. But they may still give you the results you want.

You may want to avoid stannous fluoride containing toothpastes if you are concerned about staining. Generally, stannous fluoride is linked to staining on teeth, although manufacturers claim they can reduce this effect with the correct formulation.

Beware of abrasiveness with whitening toothpastes, which could make any existing sensitivity worse. But the following toothpastes contain active ingredients to help control tooth sensitivity whilst also improving appearance:

  • Colgate Sensitive Toothpaste: Whitening (view on Amazon) – again, the active ingredient is potassium nitrate, with sodium fluoride for anti-cavity protection. The RDA is not easily available, but other Colgate Sensitive toothpastes rank under 100.
  • Crest 3D White Whitening Therapy Sensitivity Care Toothpaste (view it here on Amazon) – the active ingredient is potassium nitrate for control of sensitivity, whilst also containing sodium fluoride for protection against cavities. According to Williamson Perio, the RDA is 152, which is well below the FDA and ADA limits, but you potentially cause damage if used incorrectly.
  • Ultradex Whitening toothpaste (view on Amazon) is a good whitening toothpaste for sensitive teeth. It is not very abrasive, and uses chemicals to help lift stains off teeth instead.

Best fluoride free toothpaste for sensitive teeth

One of the major ingredients that helps with sensitivity is actually stannous fluoride, so if you avoid this, you are limited to using a toothpaste containing either arginine, calcium phosphate ions or potassium nitrate.

Honestly, if you suffer from sensitive teeth and want a fluoride free toothpaste you should check out the reviews for:

  • Tom’s of Maine Fluoride-Free Rapid Relief Sensitive Toothpaste (view on Amazon) which contains arginine as an active ingredient
  • GC Mi Paste (view on Amazon) – is fluoride free but contains calcium and phosphate ions to aid remineralisation. The MI Paste Plus and MI Paste One both contain fluoride on top of this.
  • BioMin C (view on Amazon) – contains patented calcium and phosphate technology which can aid remineralisation and provide some protection against decay as well as sensitivity.
  • Biomed Sensitive toothpaste (view on Amazon) contains hydroxyapatite (calcium and phosphate) for sensitivity and remineralisation, whilst missing out the fluoride.

Best Sensodyne toothpaste

Big pharmaceutical company GSK produces Sensodyne and Pronamel, and it can be difficult to know what is right for you. Below is some advice on how you can pick the variation of Sensodyne that is best suited to you:

  1. Look at the active ingredients. In Canada Sensodyne and Pronamel have one of three possible active ingredients: potassium nitrate, stannous fluoride, or Novamin. I have split these into a helpful table below. If one ingredient isn’t working for you, try switching to the other. The active ingredient is the main difference with the pastes.
  2. Decide whether to go for SLS-Free. This is worth considering if you suffer from sore gums or ulcers. I go into more detail in my post on the best SLS-Free toothpastes.
  3. Pick any other helpful ingredient e.g. whitening. Although there won’t be much difference with these, and there will only be stain removal, not overall whitening of the tooth colour.
  4. Use this tool on the website to help you decide.

To put it bluntly, there isn’t one single best sensodyne toothpaste (although I have included Sensodyne Daily Care in my list of overall best options). Other than the different active ingredients, there isn’t an awful lot of difference in the formulations, but there may be a big change in price!

Stannous FluoridePotassium NitrateNovamin
Sensodyne Rapid Relief: Original, Extra FreshSensodyne Daily Care: Fresh Mint, Multi Action, Multi Action Whitening, Ultra Fresh, Deep CleanSensodyne Repair and Protect:  Original, Whitening, Extra Fresh
Sensodyne Complete Protection: original, Extra FreshSensodyne Whitening: Brilliant Whitening, Whitening plus Tartar Fighting
Sensodyne Pronamel Daily Protection: Gentle Whitening, Mint Essence, Fresh Wave, Multi Action
Sensodyne Pronamel Intensive Enamel Repair: Extra Fresh, Clean Mint
Sensodyne Pronamel Strong & Bright Enamel: Mint, Extra Fresh

Prescription toothpastes

Finally, if you have tried many different options and they aren’t helping, there are some specialist products you can get on prescription from your dentist or buy directly from your dentist’s office.

  • Take home pastes. Contain stronger concentrations of ingredients, or ingredients not available in normal stores.
    • Prescription only
      • Colgate PreviDent toothpaste – Sodium fluoride
      • Colgate PreviDent 5000 Enamel Protect Toothpaste – Sodium fluoride and potassium nitrate
      • 3M ESPE Clinpro toothpaste – sodium fluoride
      • Cypress Sodium Fluoride Brush on Gel – sodium fluoride
  • At the dentist’s office: the dentist can apply specials gels and varnishes such as:
    • PhillipsRelief ACP Gel – Calcium Phosphate, fluoride and potassium nitrate)
    • FluoriMax – fluoride and HAP
    • VOCO ProFluorid Varnish – sodium fluoride
    • 3M ESPE Clinpro™ – calcium phosphate 
    • PCXX 1.23% APF One Minute Topical Fluoride Gel – sodium fluoride
    • NuPro Sensodyne Polish – Novamin (calcium phosphate)
    • Duraflor Varnish – sodium fluoride

About the ingredients used in sensitive toothpastes

Arginine 

Arginine is an essential amino acid, actually found naturally within the body. However the doses found in saliva are much lower than those found in toothpastes.

Arginine is used to treat sensitivity by blocking the exposed dentin tubules (where the nerves are exposed). Blocking these tubules and the exposed nerves prevents irritation of the nerve and so reduces tooth sensitivity.

The relief from a tubule blocker is relatively quick, and you can notice an effect almost instantly with some products.

Unfortunately, there are very few toothpastes on the US market which do contain arginine, so choice is limited. However you may also be able to buy arginine-containing products at your dentist’s office to take home.

Calcium and Phosphate Ions

Calcium and phosphate ions help to remineralize the outermost surface of the tooth with hydroxapetite. Ultimately this blocks the tubules, preventing irritation of the nerves within them. There are a couple of formulations you may have heard of, Novamin and BioMin, which have slight differences between them.

  • Novamin – Calcium Sodium Phosphosilicate – a “bioactive glass” which essentially releases calcium and phosphate ions. Some evidence shows Novamin is more effective than BioMin when it comes to blocking dentin tubules. What this means is that it may be more effective if there is gum recession exposing root dentin or where there has been enamel wear exposing the dentin.
  • BioMin – Calcium FluoroPhospho Silicate – a “bioactive glass” which essentially releases calcium and phosphate ions, also containing fluoride. 

Potassium Nitrate

Potassium nitrate prevents sensitivity by preventing the nerve from passing on the pain message from the tooth to the brain. It is a nerve calming agent.

Although it prevents the message being passed on, it does not treat the cause of sensitivity, so you could develop sensitivity once again.

It takes time for potassium nitrate to work, so there is no instant relief. You need to use these products for a few weeks to see if they work for you, and if they do help – do not stop using them!

Anecdotally the treatments work, and there seems to be a lot of evidence from manufacturers, but there is only limited evidence when reviewed independently by the Cochrane Collaboration.

Stannous Fluoride

Stannous fluoride treats the cause of sensitivity by blocking the ends of the exposed dentin tubules. This prevents the nerves found inside the tooth from being irritated when being exposed to hot or cold.

A tubule blocker like stannous fluoride has an almost instant effect in relieving you from tooth sensitivity. 

Strontium Chloride

Strontium chloride treats sensitivity in teeth by blocking the message between the pain receptors and the brain. In other words, it is a nerve calming agent.

Strontium chloride doesn’t treat the root cause of the sensitivity and so you may develop tooth sensitivity again in the future.

You need to give it a couple of weeks for the effect of strontium chloride to build up before it can take full effect, and then continue to use it even if the symptoms improve. 

At the time of writing, strontium chloride is not widely used in US toothpastes.

FAQ

Below are some common questions about sensitive toothpaste. If you’ve got any questions of your own, leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

Is Sensodyne or Colgate sensitive better?

How useful a toothpaste is to you depends on the active ingredient. You can pick between stannous fluoride or potassium nitrate for Sensodyne or Colgate. As this is a personal choice, neither is “better”.

Is all Sensodyne toothpaste for sensitive teeth?

All Sensodyne toothpastes contain either stannous fluoride or potassium nitrate and are useful if you suffer from sensitive teeth.

Can sensitive toothpaste cause sensitive teeth?

Not everyone gets a benefit from all sensitive toothpastes. One ingredient may work better than another for you. If you switch products and ingredients, you may lose the benefits from the other toothpaste. The new toothpaste hasn’t caused the sensitivity, but it is no longer helping. If you suddenly develop sensitive teeth, see a dental professional.

Does toothpaste for sensitive teeth work?

Yes, toothpastes formulated for sensitive teeth do work, but you may need to try different active ingredients to find one that works for you.

Are there any other products that could help with sensitivity?

As well as using a sensitive toothpaste, you could consider a sensitive mouthwash, or a prescription product from your dentist.

Other sensitive toothpastes

In case none of the products from our list above appeal to you, here are some additional sensitive toothpastes to consider.

When picking a toothpaste, I recommend considering the general advice on choosing a toothpaste from our toothpaste hub page.

Name of ProductAnti-cavity protectionActive ingredientPrice RangeAlso good for…
Tom’s of Maine Fluoride-Free Rapid Relief Sensitive ToothpastenilArginine$Natural
hello® sensitivity reliefFluoridePotassium Nitrate$$$Natural
SLS free
Vegan
Crest Pro-HealthfluorideStannous fluoride$
Crest Gum and Sensitivity: All Day Protection, Gentle WhiteningfluorideStannous fluoride$$Gum disease
Whitening available
Crest 3D White Therapy Sensitive ToothpastefluoridePotassium Nitrate$$Whitening
Crest Sensi-Relief Whitening + ScopefluoridePotassium Nitrate$$Whitening
Crest Sensi-Repair & Prevent fluorideStannous fluoride$$
Sensodyne Rapid Relief: Original, Extra FreshfluorideStannous fluoride$$SLS free
Sensodyne Daily Care: Fresh Mint, Multi Action, Multi Action Whitening, Ultra Fresh, Deep CleanfluoridePotassium Nitrate$SLS free
Whitening available
Sensodyne Complete Protection: original, Extra FreshfluorideStannous fluoride$$Gum Disease
Sensodyne Whitening: Brilliant Whitening, Whitening plus Tartar FightingfluoridePotassium nitrate$$Whitening
Sensodyne Pronamel Daily Protection: Gentle Whitening, Mint Essence, Fresh Wave, Multi ActionfluoridePotassium nitrate$SLS free
Whitening Available
Sensodyne Pronamel Intensive Enamel Repair: Extra Fresh, Clean MintfluoridePotassium nitrate$$SLS free
Whitening Available
Sensodyne Pronamel Strong & Bright Enamel: Mint, Extra FreshfluoridePotassium nitrate$$SLS Free
Sensodyne Repair and Protect:  Original, Whitening, Extra FreshfluorideCalcium and phosphate ions (Novamin)$$Whitening available
Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste fluorideCalcium and phosphate ions (Pro-Argin)$$Whitening available
Colgate Total Advanced Sensitive Relieffluoride?$Gum disease
Colgate Sensitive (Original, Whitening)fluoridePotassium Nitrate$$Whitening available
Colgate Enamel Health Sensitivity RelieffluoridePotassium nitrate$
BioMin CCalcium phosphatesCalcium and Phosphate Ions$$Vegan
Biomin FfluorideCalcium and Phosphate Ions$$Vegan
Biomin F KidsfluorideCalcium and Phosphate Ions$$Non-Mint
Vegan
Arm & Hammer Sensitive Complete Protection ToothpastefluoridePotassium nitrate$
Arm & Hammer Sensitive WhiteningfluoridePotassium nitrate$Whitening
Arm & Hammer Sensitive Teeth & Gums ToothpastefluoridePotassium nitrate$Gum disease
Regenerate Enamel Science™ toothpastefluorideCalcium and phosphate ions$$$
Regenerate Enamel Science™ Advanced Enamel SerumfluorideCalcium and phosphate ions$$$
Biomed Sensitive ToothpasteHAPCalcium and phosphate ions$$Natural
Non-mint
Organic
SLS free
Ultradex Whitening ToothpasteFluorideHAPCalcium and phosphate ions$$Bad Breath
SLS free
Whitening
Vegan
GC MI PastenoCalcium and phosphate ions$$$Non mint available
SLS free
GC MI Paste PlusfluorideCalcium and phosphate ions$$$Non mint available
SLS free
GC MI Paste OnefluorideCalcium and phosphate ions
Potassium nitrate
$$$SLS free
AloedentFluoride (fluoride free available)Herbal$$Natural
SLS free

About Dr. Gemma Wheeler, BDS (Hons)

Gemma qualified from Cardiff University School of Dentistry in 2015. She went on to complete her Foundation Training and a further two years in the Armed Forces, primarily based around Wiltshire. She now works in a private practice in Plymouth.

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