Guest Post: Protecting Your Sensitive Teeth

When reviewing the Crest Pro-Health Sensitive line, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Robert W. Gerlach, DDS, MPH about sensitive teeth and the new Crest Pro-Health line.  I thought you would also like to hear his answers as he had some great tips to share with those who have sensitive teeth.  

Dr. Gerlach, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for my readers. I believe that this information and the Crest Pro-Health Sensitive Shield products will be great for my readers to know about.

1. For those who do not experience sensitive teeth, what exactly is sensitive teeth?

To begin, tooth sensitivity is one of the most common types of dental pain. It is often called “hypersensitivity” – meaning an exaggerated sensitivity response. The sensitivity can occur because of loss of enamel, which is the hard outer layer on the tooth, and/or receding gums.

More than 50 percent of adults have gum recession, making this the most common cause of tooth sensitivity. When you are in your 20s or 30s or 40s, you are at the greatest risk for new tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity occurs when the underlying layer of your teeth, called dentin, becomes exposed as a result of receding gum tissue. The roots of the teeth, which are not covered by hard enamel, contain tiny tubules leading to the nerve center in your tooth. These tubules are channels that allow hot or cold foods or beverages to stimulate the nerves inside your tooth, resulting in pain.

2. For those concerned, are there certain things that cause sensitive teeth or that should be avoided?

Behaviors, heredity and other factors can contribute to gum recession. This recession leads to what is sometimes called the “long in the tooth” look – a premature sign of aging. Some individuals develop “coping behaviors” to minimize sensitivity, including avoiding hot or cold foods, chewing on one side of the mouth, or even not brushing affected areas.

The best approach is prevention, and this occurs through good, daily at-home oral hygiene. By maintaining a good oral care routine of brushing, flossing and rinsing, you can help sustain the health of your mouth. This prevents gingivitis – which is the gum disease that occurs where the gums and tooth meet – and helps prevent receding gums that lead to sensitivity. Another approach is to avoid brushing too hard, as this can cause loss of enamel and damage to the gums, contributing to gum recession and tooth sensitivity.

Therefore, you can get the best results by using a combination of effective AND gentle daily oral hygiene along with routine dental cleanings.

3. When you started researching and designing this Crest’s Pro-Health Sensitive Shield line, what kinds of things did you consider?

We wanted to ensure that those suffering from tooth sensitivity received the most complete care, so we created Crest Pro-Health Sensitive Shield to help protect sensitive teeth and provide comprehensive oral health protection for healthy teeth and gums. Individuals struggling with sensitivity no longer have to spend time and money for different toothpaste combinations to get all the protection they want for a healthy mouth. You do not need to trade-off one toothpaste for another toothpaste because Crest Pro-Health protects against all these areas dentist check most: cavities, gingivitis, plaque, tartar, sensitivity, whitening, and fresh breath.

We also wanted to provide a sensitivity solution that gets to the “root” of the problem, rather than just numbing the pain. Remember those tiny tubules in your teeth and their relationship to tooth sensitivity that I mentioned earlier? Well, Crest Pro-Health Sensitive Shield contains the active ingredient stannous fluoride which reduces sensitivity by blocking those tubule openings in exposed dentin to keep external triggers such as heat and cold from causing the fluid in the tubules to move. This keeps the nerve from being stimulated and irritated. Unlike other common sensitivity toothpastes, Crest Pro-Health Sensitive Shield helps both prevent and treat the problem of tooth sensitivity.

Lastly, oftentimes sensitivity sufferers fail to brush their teeth thoroughly due to the pain they feel while brushing. That is why we created Crest Pro-Health Sensitive Shield with a specially designed smoother formula, making it more comfortable for sensitive mouths, while at the same time providing sensitivity protection and relief for those with even the most sensitive of teeth.

4. I love Crest’s Pro-Health Sensitive Shield toothpaste, but what makes it different than other brand’s sensitive toothpaste?

Crest Pro-Health is the ONLY leading toothpaste to protect against tooth sensitivity and all these other areas dentists check most: cavities, gingivitis, tartar, plaque, fresh breath, and whitening. Crest Pro-Health Sensitive Shield is a no “trade-offs solution” for those who want sensitivity protection plus comprehensive oral care protection for healthy teeth and gums.

5. Besides using Crest’s Pro-Health Sensitive Shield products, are there other ways that my readers and those with sensitive teeth can protect their teeth from the daily things that cause pain?

Besides using the right sensitivity toothpaste like Crest Pro-Health Sensitive Shield, there are additional ways to protect against sensitivity, including:

•Maintain good oral hygiene: Follow proper brushing and flossing techniques to thoroughly clean all parts of your teeth and mouth. Make sure to choose floss that is extra soft and eases any difficulty or discomfort you may associate with flossing.

•Watch what you eat: Frequent consumption of acidic foods can gradually dissolve tooth enamel and lead to dentin exposure.

Sometimes, dental pain can be caused by other factors, so be sure to your dentist or hygienist about sensitivity that does not resolve in a few weeks.

Dr. Robert W. Gerlach Bio: Dr. Gerlach is a Research Fellow in Worldwide Clinical Investigations at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, OH. In his role, Dr. Gerlach is responsible for studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of oral care products worldwide.

His clinical trials research includes initiatives in the areas of caries prevention, periodontal therapy, and more recently, esthetic dentistry, especially tooth whitening. With more than 100 studies, Dr. Gerlach is recognized as a leading clinical researcher in the area of whitening. His research has led to novel delivery systems for vital bleaching, and new dentifrice formulations for stain control.

A public health dentist, Dr. Gerlach's work in dentistry spans government, academics, industry and practice. Dr. Gerlach holds positions at prominent dental schools, he lectures worldwide on therapeutic and esthetic dentistry, and his research has been reported in over 200 manuscripts and published abstracts.