Can Changing Toothpaste Cause Sensitivity? Surprising Facts! 2023

Last Updated: 30 November 2023

Ever had that moment where your favourite hot or cold treat turns into a not-so-friendly reminder that your teeth have their own opinions? Tooth sensitivity, the unwelcome guest at the dining table. Now, ask yourself: Can changing toothpaste cause sensitivity? If you’ve ever winced at the thought, you’re not alone.

In this exploration, we’re not hitting you with fantastical tales. We’re diving into the everyday struggles – your struggles. It’s your dental story, our investigation, and a search for answers. So, without any further ado. Let’s uncover.

Understanding Tooth Sensitivity

Let’s start with the basics. Tooth sensitivity is like your teeth’s way of sending an unexpected invitation to discomfort. It’s that sharp pain you feel when you indulge in something hot, cold, sweet, or sour. Now, the key here is understanding that it’s not just some random annoyance – it’s your teeth trying to tell you something.

When we say “tooth sensitivity,” we mean your teeth reacting to external stimuli in a way that makes you go; it’s a signal from your teeth, and decoding this signal is the first step in navigating the sensitivity.

Common Misconceptions Surrounding Tooth Sensitivity

Believe it or not, both sensitivity has its fair share of myths floating around. One common misconception is that getting older is just a normal part. On the other hand, age is not the only factor here. Another myth is that sensitivity only happens to people with poor oral hygiene. That is not necessarily true. Even the most diligent brushers can get caught off guard.

By debunking these myths, we’re clearing the fog. Sensitivity is a nuanced issue with various triggers, and understanding this complexity is crucial for finding the right solutions.

Importance of Distinguishing Between Correlation and Causation

Now, let’s talk about the detective work. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that changing toothpaste directly causes sensitivity. We need to be careful not to confuse correlation with causation. Just because you switched toothpaste around the same time sensitivity kicked in doesn’t mean one caused the other.

Understanding this is like separating the true suspects from the innocent spectators. It’s about digging deeper, looking at patterns, and considering other factors in your oral health journey.

Can Changing Toothpaste Cause Sensitivity?

Changing toothpaste isn’t a guaranteed sentence to sensitivity purgatory. But, yes, it can throw your dental experience a curveball. The real kicker? It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Your best friend might rave about their new toothpaste while your teeth decide to throw a tantrum.

Changing toothpaste can sometimes lead to increased tooth sensitivity due to various reasons. Following are some of those:

Different Ingredients – Abrasive Substances

Toothpastes contain various ingredients, some of which can be abrasive. While most toothpastes are designed to be gentle on enamel, some may contain higher levels of abrasive substances, potentially irritating sensitive teeth or exposed dentin. For example, charcoal toothpaste is a famous whitening toothpaste but there are evidences that charcoal toothpaste can damage teeth and may cause sensitivity.

Whitening Agents

Toothpastes with whitening agents, such as peroxide, enzymes, citrate, and pyrophosphate, can cause sensitivity or discomfort. A literature review about whitening toothpastes published in the Journal of Dentistry discusses how these toothpastes are formulated to remove and prevent extrinsic stains without being overly abrasive to dental tissues. However, these agents can still cause sensitivity, particularly in individuals with exposed tooth roots or worn enamel​. (1)

Loss of Desensitizing Ingredients

Switching from a desensitizing toothpaste to a regular one can lead to increased sensitivity. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology compared desensitizing toothpastes containing ingredients like potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride against a placebo. It was found that these toothpastes were effective for dentin hypersensitivity, implying that a switch away from them could result in increased sensitivity​. (2)

Allergic Reactions

Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to certain ingredients in toothpaste, such as flavorings or other additives. A review of contact allergies to toothpaste ingredients on PubMed found that allergic reactions often manifest as cheilitis with or without dermatitis around the mouth. These reactions have been linked to diverse ingredients, including formerly common allergens like cinnamon derivatives. (3)

Gum Irritation

Some toothpastes, especially those with strong flavors or certain chemicals, can irritate your gums, which might feel like a toothache. A study published in PubMed investigated the effects of SLS, a common detergent in toothpastes, on oral mucosa. The study found that SLS in toothpaste can cause irritation and damage to the oral mucosa, which might be perceived as gum irritation or toothache. (4)

Overview of Common Toothpaste Ingredients

Let’s get down to basics. You may have never thought about your toothpaste’s ingredients. Well, it’s not just a minty goo – it’s a mix of key players. Fluoride is the cavity-fighting hero; abrasives scrub away gunk, humectants maintain texture, and flavouring agents make it bearable. Knowing this lineup helps you understand what you’re putting on your toothbrush.

Not all toothpaste is the same. Brands have their secret recipes, each designed for different needs. Some tackle sensitivity, while others focus on whitening or enamel care. Walk down the toothpaste aisle, and you’ll see the array – gel, paste, mild, strong flavours – options galore. Understanding this variety helps you pick a toothpaste that suits your oral goals.

How Changes in Toothpaste Composition May Affect Sensitivity?

Now, if you switch toothpaste, does it impact sensitivity?

Well, yes and no.

Some toothpaste ingredients, like potassium nitrate, aim to calm sensitivity.

But not all toothpaste is made equal.

Some might have abrasives that could affect enamel and worsen sensitivity. Knowing this helps you make a smart choice – finding a toothpaste that does what you need without unnecessary fuss.

Can Changing Toothpaste Irritate Your Gums?

Changing toothpaste can potentially irritate your gums, and this effect has been studied in various research contexts. The irritation caused by changing toothpaste typically results from the ingredients present in different toothpaste formulations.

Here are some key findings from research studies:

Effect of Enzymes and Proteins in Toothpaste on Oral Microbiome

A study focused on the ecological effects of a toothpaste containing enzymes and proteins compared to a control toothpaste. It was found that the specialized toothpaste could promote a shift in the oral microbiome, increasing bacteria associated with gum health and decreasing those linked to periodontal disease. This suggests that certain toothpaste ingredients can beneficially modify the oral environment, potentially influencing gum health. (5)

Ingredients Causing Oral Irritations

Common toothpaste ingredients, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), pyrophosphate, and flavoring agents, have been linked to oral irritations like contact stomatitis (also known as dentifrice stomatitis). This condition can cause symptoms like a burning sensation, tissue irritation, vesicle formation, and tissue sloughing. The research underscores that even regular toothpaste can cause these reactions in susceptible individuals​. (6)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Gingival Blood Flow

SLS, widely used in toothpastes, affects the barrier function of skin by enhancing permeability. Dental researchers have linked SLS to increased gingival blood flow and mucosal irritations. This suggests that the presence of SLS in toothpaste can contribute to gum irritation and sensitivity​.

Tartar-Control Toothpastes and Oral Lesions

A study comparing tartar-control toothpastes (containing pyrophosphate and flavoring agents) with non-tartar-control toothpastes found more oral lesions associated with tartar-control toothpastes. The participants, who were dental and dental hygiene students, reported a higher rate of burning sensation with tartar-control toothpastes. This study indicates that certain ingredients in tartar-control toothpastes can be more irritating to the oral tissues.

Adverse Effects of SLS on Oral Soft Tissues

A double-blind cross-over study investigated the effects of SLS-containing toothpastes and those with a different detergent (cocoamidopropyl-betaine) on oral mucosa. The study observed a significant increase in the incidence of oral mucosal desquamation (skin peeling) with the use of SLS-containing toothpaste compared to the alternative. This suggests that SLS can be a major irritant to oral tissues and that less toxic detergents might be preferable in oral hygiene products​. (7)

Signs It’s Time to Consider Changing Toothpaste

The following are the signs and instructions you should remember when tackling such a situation.

Prolonged Sensitivity

If you notice a spike in tooth sensitivity, especially after using the same toothpaste for an extended period, it might be worth considering a change. Persistent discomfort while eating or drinking could signal that your toothpaste isn’t working. Sometimes, even, whitening toothpaste may cause tooth pain.

Allergic Reactions

Redness, swelling, or any signs of irritation around your mouth could indicate an allergic reaction to certain toothpaste ingredients. For example, some users complaint about Sensodyne toothpaste for burning their mouth. Read here more; Why Does Sensodyne Burn My Mouth?

Changes in Oral Health Needs

As your oral health needs evolve, so should your toothpaste. If you’ve recently developed concerns, such as enamel erosion or gum sensitivity, it might be time to explore toothpaste formulations designed to address these issues. Some people experience dry mouth after using sensitive toothpaste.

Lack of Desired Results

If you switched toothpaste to address a particular issue (like sensitivity) and haven’t seen any improvement after a reasonable period, it’s worth reassessing whether your current choice is the right fit for your dental goals. Some people complain about Fluoride toothpaste for teeth pain. Read more here the truth; Can Fluoride Toothpaste Cause Tooth Pain?

Changing Toothpaste: Time for Better Analysis

Following are some professional recommendations to analyze the impact of your new toothpaste.

Short-Term Observation (2-4 Weeks)

Give your new toothpaste a couple of weeks to show its colours. Short-term changes, like flavour preferences or immediate discomfort, should appear within this period.

Medium-Term Evaluation (1-2 Months)

For issues like sensitivity or minor irritation, a month or two should provide ample time to assess the effectiveness of the new toothpaste. Remember, changes in your oral health may take a bit longer to manifest.

Long-Term Assessment (3-6 Months)

If you’re switching toothpaste to address chronic concerns requiring more extended Observation, such as enamel strengthening, give it at least three to six months. This timeframe allows for a thorough evaluation of the toothpaste’s impact on oral health.

Remember, individual responses can vary, and what works for one person may not work for another. So, at first, you must show patience and later on keep in touch with your dentist to avoid harming your oral health.

Final Verdict: Can Toothpaste Change Cause Sensitivity?

In conclusion, changing toothpaste can indeed lead to increased tooth sensitivity for several reasons. Ingredients like abrasive substances, whitening agents, and certain chemicals found in toothpastes can irritate sensitive teeth and gums.

Additionally, switching from a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth to a regular toothpaste can remove the protective effects of desensitizing agents.

It’s important to be aware of these potential causes of sensitivity and to choose toothpaste that aligns with your specific oral health needs.

If you experience increased sensitivity after changing your toothpaste, consulting with a dental professional is always a wise step to ensure the health and comfort of your teeth and gums.

Read More about Oral Health:

Do Crest 3d White Strips Damage Enamel? Alarming Facts Unfolded!

– Does Teeth Whitening Damage Enamel? Shocking Facts! 2023

Best Stain Remover for Teeth: Ultimate Guide for Stain-Free Smile (2023)

Best Teeth Whitening United Kingdom: Teeth Whitening in UK for A Sweet Smile 

Sources & References

  1. Joiner A. Whitening toothpastes: a review of the literature. J Dent. 2010;38 Suppl 2:e17-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2010.05.017. Epub 2010 May 24. PMID: 20562012.
  2. Bae JH, Kim YK, Myung SK. Desensitizing toothpaste versus placebo for dentin hypersensitivity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Periodontol. 2015 Feb;42(2):131-41. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.12347. Epub 2015 Jan 9. PMID: 25483802.
  3. de Groot A. Contact Allergy to (Ingredients of) Toothpastes. Dermatitis. 2017 Mar/Apr;28(2):95-114. doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000255. PMID: 28291073.
  4. Herlofson BB, Barkvoll P. Oral mucosal desquamation caused by two toothpaste detergents in an experimental model. Eur J Oral Sci. 1996 Feb;104(1):21-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.1996.tb00041.x. PMID: 8653493.
  5. Adams SE, Arnold D, Murphy B, Carroll P, Green AK, Smith AM, Marsh PD, Chen T, Marriott RE, Brading MG. A randomised clinical study to determine the effect of a toothpaste containing enzymes and proteins on plaque oral microbiome ecology. Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 27;7:43344. doi: 10.1038/srep43344. PMID: 28240240; PMCID: PMC5327414.
  6. Toothpaste ingredients can lead to lesions; RDHmag
  7. Herlofson BB, Barkvoll P. Oral mucosal desquamation caused by two toothpaste detergents in an experimental model. Eur J Oral Sci. 1996 Feb;104(1):21-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.1996.tb00041.x. PMID: 8653493.

About the Author & Medical Reviewer:

Author Profile
Amanda Lauren David

Amanda Lauren is a dynamic freelance writer specializing in the realms of health and fitness. With a fervent dedication to promoting holistic well-being, she leverages her expertise to inspire readers on their journeys to optimal health. She has experience reporting on a myriad of health conditions, as well as identifying the best products for consumers to buy when shopping for an item to fit their health needs. She has been featured in NYTimes, EatingWell, Health, Shape, Prevention, and more.

Author Profile
Dr. Paul Crane, DMD

Dr. Paul Crane, DMD, is a distinguished Doctor of Dental Medicine specializing in periodontics, with a career spanning over two decades. Renowned for his expertise in gum health and dental implants, Dr. Crane has become a trusted figure in the field of periodontics. His commitment to patient-centered care and advanced treatment techniques has earned him a reputation for excellence. Dr. Crane is deeply passionate about staying at the forefront of dental research and technology, ensuring his patients receive the highest quality of care available.