News for pharmacy professionals
19 Oct 2016
Teeth are protected by enamel and a thin layer called the radicular cementum. Inside that is the dentine, comprising thousands of microscopic tubules that connect the outer part of the tooth with the nerve endings.
When this natural protection is lost and the dentine is exposed allowing thermal, chemical or tactile stimuli to reach the nerve endings, dental sensitivity appears. It is a syndrome characterised by intense, transient dental pain, usually located in one or more teeth, which disappears when the stimulus that provokes it ceases.
Sensitivity is the most common cause of dental pain and can affect one in four adults, mostly between 18 and 40 years of age. In recent years, its prevalence has increased among young people because of the increased consumption of acidic drinks and the indiscriminate and unsupervised use of tooth whitening products.
Dental sensitivity often appears as the result of gum recession or surface wear on the tooth. Some of the main triggers include:
Abrasion. Friction caused by a very abrasive toothpaste or the habit of putting foreign objects in the mouth, such as pens, pins, etc. results in wear or loss of tooth enamel.
Cervical abfraction and attrition. Excessive force when chewing, and clenching or grinding of teeth (bruxism) accelerates enamel wear.
Erosion. Chemical action upon consumption of highly acidic foods, or contact with them as a result of gastric reflux or vomiting, causes enamel wear or loss.
Dental treatments. Certain dental treatments such as scaling and root planing, or complications arising from orthodontics may cause gum recession and therefore favour the onset of dental sensitivity.
Toothpastes and mouthwashes for dental sensitivity are the third most in-demand product category at pharmacies and parapharmacies, after gum care and anticaries products. With a turnover of up to €50 million through this channel, there is a growing market driven by public demand and awareness, and the prevalence of this dental disorder.
Pharmacists and their sales channel are unique in responding to this demand by offering their customers added value in up-to-date professional information on this disorder, tips to prevent it and solutions for its treatment, thus differentiating them from large stores and other outlets offering similar products.
If not treated properly, tooth sensitivity may trigger more serious diseases, such as tooth decay or periodontal disease, as the pain caused by hypersensitivity hinders effective performance of oral hygiene.
The role of the pharmacist is therefore crucial to detect possible cases of tooth sensitivity and in recommending specific products for treatment, as well as recommending visits to the dentist for proper examination and an accurate diagnosis.
Prevention also involves following this advice on diet:
Ensuring proper oral hygiene, including the use of specific products (toothpaste and mouthwash), as well as flossing, will help prevent the onset of dental sensitivity:
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