Sensitive teeth can be a significant source of discomfort for millions of people, affecting their daily lives and enjoyment of various foods and drinks. However, there’s a new hope on the horizon for those dealing with this dental woe. Recent research has unveiled an intriguing connection between a common rust remover chemical and the alleviation of sensitive tooth problems.
The innovative approach involves a sticky patch infused with a gel layer containing the chemical potassium oxalate. This patch is applied to the affected tooth, similar to how teeth whitening strips are used, and left in place for a duration of ten minutes. Potassium oxalate, renowned for its rust removing properties, is believed to play a crucial role in blocking the tiny holes present on the tooth’s surface that lead to sensitivity.
Sensitive teeth, also known as dentine hypersensitivity, affect approximately one in ten individuals. The condition can result in sudden bursts of sharp pain triggered by various factors, such as exposure to cold air or consuming hot, cold, or sweet food and drinks. Although the pain is fleeting, it can significantly impact one’s quality of life, forcing them to avoid everyday triggers.
Dentine, the primary material comprising a tooth, is typically shielded by an outer layer of enamel. However, factors like aggressive brushing, erosion from acidic food and drinks, or the natural aging process can wear away the enamel layer, revealing the sensitive dentine beneath. This vulnerability can lead to discomfort when the tiny holes in the dentine, housing nerve fibers, are exposed. Thankfully, toothpastes and mouth rinses containing chemical salts and fluoride can assist by blocking these tubules and preventing trigger substances from infiltrating.
The new patch offers a significant advantage, as potassium oxalate remains active for up to a month and doesn’t dissolve in the mouth. This prolonged effect ensures lasting relief for individuals dealing with sensitive teeth.
Researchers at Bristol Dental Hospital are at the forefront of this exciting breakthrough, utilizing a gel-infused strip containing potassium oxalate—the very same chemical employed in various industrial applications such as rust removal, wood bleaching, and scale elimination from car radiators. Preliminary findings demonstrate the chemical’s desensitizing effect by physically blocking the exposed tubules, offering promising results.
A clinical trial involving 100 patients with sensitive teeth is currently underway, where half of the participants will use the gel strip (capable of covering two teeth simultaneously) for ten minutes, while the other half will utilize a specialized toothpaste for sensitive teeth. The trial will span a month, during which sensitivity levels will be meticulously measured, and scans will be conducted to assess tubule exposure.
Damien Walmsley, a professor of restorative dentistry at the University of Birmingham and scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, comments on the research, expressing his enthusiasm for the innovative approach: “It’s a very interesting idea. They seem to have found a chemical which blocks the tubes and which seems to work.”