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Sensodyne is an oral health brand targeted at people with sensitive teeth.[1] Sensodyne products are applied at home by the patient to treat this condition. Sensodyne is owned by GlaxoSmithKline and is marketed under the name Shumitect in Japan.[2]


Sensodyne is a brand of toothpaste that was first sold by Block Drug, a Brooklyn, New York-based company established in 1907 by pharmacist Alexander Block.[1] The toothpaste was first marketed in 1961 as a desensitising toothpaste based on a strontium chloride formulation.[citation needed]

In 1980,[citation needed] Sensodyne launched a new toothpaste containing potassium nitrate, a mild local sedative.[3] In 2000 Block Drug was purchased by GlaxoSmithKline.[1] In 2006, Sensodyne Pronamel was released and is marketed as a toothpaste that protects against the effects of dental erosion.[citation needed]


On July 15, 2015, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare announced a recall of certain lots of Sensodyne Repair & Protect toothpaste as well as Sensodyne Complete toothpaste due to the possible presence of wood fragments in the products. The recall also applied to the company's Biotene brand of toothpaste. The recall was a precautionary measure based on a small number of complaints, and no injuries have been reported. The recall applies to products manufactured between 2013 and September 2014, and shipped from June 2013 to April 2015.[4]

How Sensodyne works[edit]

Sensodyne toothpastes work in one of three ways to relieve the pain of sensitive teeth. Depending on the product's active ingredient - potassium nitrate, strontium acetate/chloride, or NovaMin technology.

Potassium nitrate: The potassium ion depolarizes the nerve and stops it from firing. The nerve impulses are thus desensitized and there is no pain.[5] Clinical studies show potassium nitrate progressively reduces the pain of sensitivity over a period of weeks.[citation needed] As long as a toothpaste with potassium like Sensodyne is used twice daily in brushing, the nerve response will gradually be reduced and sensitivity pain is relieved.[citation needed]

Strontium acetate and chloride: These compounds share a similar chemical structure to calcium. Strontium based toothpastes (acetate and chloride) are therefore able to replace some of the lost calcium and block the exposed tubules in the dentinal tissue. This helps prevent the movement of the fluid within the tubules in response to a sensitivity stimulus that could otherwise cause tooth pain.[5][6]

Bioactive glass: Newer Sensodyne products [7][8] contain calcium sodium phosphosilicate (brand name NovaMin). NovaMin sticks to an exposed dentin surface and reacts with it to form a mineralized layer. The layer formed bonds with the tooth, and is therefore strong and resistant to acid. The continuous release of calcium over time is suggested to maintain the protective effects on dentin, and provide continual occlusion of the dentin tubules.[9][10]

Evidence and efficacy[edit]

A study made by Center for Dental Research, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, in California, didn't show any statistically significant relief of dentin hypersensitivity for a toothpaste containing 8% strontium acetate. In the study the test toothpaste containing 8% strontium acetate and 1040 ppm fluoride as NaF in a silica base, when used for a single topical application and twice-daily brushing for seven days, did't provide statistically significant relief of dentin hypersensitivity compared to a negative control toothpaste containing 1100 ppm fluoride as NaF in a silica base. In contrast, the positive control toothpaste containing 8.0% arginine and 1450 ppm fluoride as MFP in a calcium carbonate base provided significantly reduced dentin hypersensitivity compared to the negative control toothpaste, and was significantly more effective than the test toothpaste containing 8% strontium acetate and 1040 ppm fluoride as NaF in a silica base.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Clark, Andrew (October 7, 2000). "SmithKline to swallow Sensodyne". The Guardian. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (May 13, 1990). "All About/Toothpaste; Growth Is Glacial, but the Market Is Big, and So Is the Gross". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  4. ^ GlaxoSmithKline. Recall of certain lot numbers of Sensodyne Repair & Protect, Sensodyne Complete and Biotene Gel & Toothpaste. (July 15, 2015). Retrieved from
  5. ^ a b "How Sensodyne Works". Sensodyne Australia. GlaxoSmithKline. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Hughes, N; Layer, T (2010). "Evidence for the efficacy of an 8% strontium acetate dentifrice for instant and lasting relief of dentin hypersensitivity.". Journal of Clinical Dentistry 21 (5): 56–58. PMID 20669817. 
  7. ^ "Sensodyne Repair & Protect". Sensodyne Australia. GlaxoSmithKline. 
  8. ^ "Sensodyne Complete Care". Sensodyne Australia. GlaxoSmithKline. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Goldie, Maria. "Potassium nitrate, sodium fluoride, strontium chloride, and NovaMin technologies for dentin hypersensitivity". Dentistry IQ. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Li, Yiming; Lee, Sean; Zhang, Yun Po; Delgado, Evaristo; DeVizio, William; Mateo, Luis R. (2011-01-01). "Comparison of clinical efficacy of three toothpastes in reducing dentin hypersensitivity". The Journal of Clinical Dentistry 22 (4): 113–120. ISSN 0895-8831. PMID 22403987. 
  • Addy, Martin.Dentine Hypersensitivity: new perspectives on an old problem. International Dental Journal (2002) 52, 367–375.

External links[edit]