Desensitizing toothpastes work well for people experiencing sensitivity due to worn tooth enamel or gum recession. However, dentists at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry warn that patients should not use these products as a cure-all for tooth pain when the pain could signal a more serious condition.

Such toothpastes contain compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, but they should not be used as a pain management technique for discomfort associated with dental issues such as cavities or fractured teeth.

Dr. Charles W. Wakefield, professor and director of the advanced education in general dentistry residency program at HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry, says if you are experiencing pain, a thorough oral examination and appropriate dental X-rays are needed to help determine the cause.  Oral pain may not always be related to the teeth or gums; it may be a symptom of a systemic health issue such as angina, heart attack, ear infection or sinus infection.

Because the use of desensitizing toothpastes can mask the pain for more serious problems, Dr. Wakefield says it is important to have an oral health professional diagnose the cause of discomfort before using the toothpastes. Neglecting to obtain a proper diagnosis could lead to more serious health consequences.

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