The manufacturers of Sensodyne toothpaste claims their products "helps relieve the pain of sensitive teeth", using the active ingredients of (either) Strontium Chloride or Potassium Nitrate

Does Sensodyne toothpaste actually reduce sensitivity in one's teeth? If so, how?

  • It seems to work fine. As far as I know enamel is actually porous and the the paste can penetrate it.
    – Benbob
    Commented May 21, 2011 at 13:56

2 Answers 2


The Sensodyne marketing includes an explanation, some of which includes a reference.

They claim that the products containing Potassium Nitrate work because the potassium stops the nerves from firing, citing Nagata, T. et al, Clinical evaluation of a potassium nitrate dentrific for the treatment of dentinal hypersensitivity, J Clin Periodontal. 1994;21:217-221.

They claim the products containing Strontium Chloride work by blocking the exposed tubules within the dentinal tissue, that stops fluid flow that triggers pain. They do not provide references on their web-site to support that claim.


Here are a couple of sources that might be helpful: This study addressed the "clinical effectiveness of strontium chloride" and found that out of a group of 132 patients, 72% had reduced discomfort and pain. No mechanism was offered.

This study seems to indicate that fluid flow is associated with dentinal pain (this addresses thermal stimulation)

This study indicates that potassium nitrate works through desensitization of nerve tissue within the tubules

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