TOOTH sensitivity can occur due to many causes, which include tooth decay, gum disease, enamel abrasion, gastric regurgitation, anatomical aspects and gum recession.
As such, sensitivity-relieving toothpastes cannot cure all of the above causes, but have a limited role primarily in enamel abrasion which is mainly caused by incorrect tooth-brushing technique.
Even in such cases, if the tooth-brushing technique is not corrected, the sensitivity relief by toothpaste will be short-lived. Hence the sensitivity relieving claims advertised on TV by some toothpaste manufacturers should not be taken as curative.
At most they are symptomatic. Similarly, all toothpaste advertisements claiming to cure gum diseases and other dental ailments are simply untrue.
Just as a painkiller tablet cannot cure the underlying ailment, but can only be used to reduce fever and pain, similarly the use of any particular toothpaste claiming pain relief cannot undo the underlying cause of dental pain in majority of cases.
It must be mentioned here that twice daily correct tooth brushing with simple fluoridated toothpaste is highly effective in preventing tooth decay and gum diseases, which are the two most common dental diseases. Nevertheless, existing dental diseases surely require dental treatment.
As such, tooth sensitivity and pain, if it persists for more than a week, require professional dental examination and care by a qualified dentist.
It is suggested that Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority should have all such toothpaste advertisements claiming tooth sensitivity and pain control, vetted and certified by Pakistan Dental Association or other accredited dental institutions, before airing them in the interest of public health.
Dr Mahmood Shah
Pakistan Dental Association
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2018