New research has determined that two natural remedies used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries can eliminate or at least curb teeth hypersensitivity.
Sensitive teeth – or teeth hypersensitivity – is a common complaint among adults. A study by the University of Washington’s School of Dentistry found recently that about one in eight people (12.3% to be exact) experience hypersensitive teeth.
More revealing, they also found that teeth hypersensitivity is highest among adults aged 18 to 44 years old. The next highest incidence was among those over 65.
Teeth hypersensitivity is also more prevalent among women, those with gum recession, and among those who had undergone DIY tooth whitening at home according to the research.
And surprisingly, hypersensitivity was not associated with aggressive tooth brushing, nor with tooth chipping.
Do chemical treatments work for teeth hypersensitivity?
Today many dentists suggest potassium nitrate-containing toothpaste gels to reduce tooth sensitivity. Does potassium nitrate really work though?
A study from the University of Missouri’s School of Dentistry studied 12 patients with hypersensitive teeth. The patients were split into three groups and treated for four weeks. One group used a gel with potassium nitrate-glycerine gel at 10% potassium nitrate. The second group used a glycerine gel without the potassium nitrate. The third group was given no gel.
The researchers found that group one experienced a significant decrease in sensitivity at week two, but not thereafter. Meanwhile group two experienced significant decrease in sensitivity at weeks three and four. The researchers concluded:
“The most sustained decrease in sensitivity to cold was found on teeth treated with plain glycerine.”
Other research has tested various other chemicals with varying degrees of success. One study tested, for example, an 8% solution of 8.0% arginine and calcium carbonate paste. This study did find significant improvement in sensitivity in a double-blind test from a New Jersey research group.
Is there a natural solution to teeth hypersensitivity?
New research says yes.
A revealing study comes from the Department of Public Health Dentistry of India’s People’s University. The researchers performed a study on 73 sensitive teeth among 13 patients. After randomizing into three groups, the researchers gave an extract of Indian Propolis, a product called GC Tooth Mousse or sterile water to the patients for three weeks.
They measured the patients for teeth sensitivity at the beginning of the trial, and every week thereafter, and of course at the end of the three weeks.
The research found that the Ayurvedic propolis extract significantly reduced the sensitivity among a majority of the teeth. In the beginning of the study, among the propolis group, 4 teeth were mildly sensitive, 14 teeth were moderately sensitive and 7 teeth were severely sensitive. After the first application (at seven days), 6 teeth had no sensitivity, 7 were mild, 11 were moderate and only one was severe. After the fourth application — at week four, 3 teeth had no sensitivity, 15 had mild sensitivity, 7 had moderate, and 0 had severe sensitivity.
These are great results for only four applications. However, the greatest improvement in sensitivity came with a product called GC tooth mousse. In this group, 7 were severe, 9 were moderate and 7 were mild at the beginning of the study. At the end of the fourth week, 16 teeth had no sensitivity while 8 had mild sensitivity.
The active ingredient in the GC tooth mousse product is casein phosphopeptide — common name recaladent (also CPP-ACP). This is isolated from casein — a protein contained in milk.
Recaladent is best known as a teeth remineralizer. A number of studies have shown that recaladent-containing toothpastes and gums are able to reduce dental caries. Others have shown the ingredient can significantly remineralize the teeth.
As far as reducing dental caries, large 24-month study of 2,720 people found that recaladent gum reduced dental caries by 18%.
Is casein phosphopeptide a natural remedy?
So why do I include this as a natural remedy? While most toothpastes containing recaladent also contain numerous chemicals, casein phosphopeptide is a casein metabolite, easily obtained from eating fresh yogurt. This is a practice that Ayurvedic medicine and cuisine has utilized for thousands of years – accompanying meals with fresh yogurt.
This is backed up by science too. A study from the School of Dentistry at Italy’s University of Naples Federico tested 80 human molars with natural casein phosphopeptides (CPPs) from yogurt. The research found that the CPPs significantly increased the mineralization of the molars. The researchers concluded:
“The results demonstrated that CPPs contained in yogurt have an inhibitory effect on demineralization and promote the remineralization of dental enamel.”
Other studies have found the CPPs from yogurts and other fermented dairy products beneficial, not only for the teeth but for the immune system.
Why is yogurt – along with other fermented milk products like kefir – so special? Because the beneficial bacteria involved in the fermenting process break down casein into its metabolites.
The bottom line is that humans are pretty smart. We didn’t just get smart in the past century. We were smart before that too. Humans developed many natural remedies from natural substances that provide curative effects, and these were tested through ad hoc clinical trials over thousands of years as the remedies were passed on between generations and perfected among patients.
Is it wise of us to neglect this long tradition of intelligence just because some multinational conglomerate mixes up a complex batch of newly manufactured chemicals?
Brazilian Propolis Extract
Cunha-Cruz J, Wataha JC, Heaton LJ, Rothen M, Sobieraj M, Scott J, Berg J; Northwest Practice-based Research Collaborative in Evidence-based DENTistry. The prevalence of dentin hypersensitivity in general dental practices in the northwest United States. J Am Dent Assoc. 2013 Mar;144(3):288-96.
Reinhart TC, Killoy WJ, Love J, Overman PR, Sakumura JS. The effectiveness of a patient-applied tooth desensitizing gel. A pilot study. J Clin Periodontol. 1990 Feb;17(2):123-7.
Nathoo S, Delgado E, Zhang YP, DeVizio W, Cummins D, Mateo LR. Comparing the efficacy in providing instant relief of dentin hypersensitivity of a new toothpaste containing 8.0% arginine, calcium carbonate, and 1450 ppm fluoride relative to a benchmark desensitizing toothpaste containing 2% potassium ion and 1450 ppm fluoride, and to a control toothpaste with 1450 ppm fluoride: a three-day clinical study in New Jersey, USA. J Clin Dent. 2009;20(4):123-30.
Torwane NA, Hongal S, Goel P, B R C, Jain M, Saxena E, Gouraha A, Yadav S. Effect of Two Desensitizing Agents in Reducing Dentin Hypersensitivity: An in-vivo Comparative Clinical Trial. J Clin Diagn Res. 2013 Sep;7(9):2042-6. doi:
Yengopal V, Mickenautsch S. Caries preventive effect of casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP): a meta-analysis. Acta Odontol Scand. 2009;67(6):321-32. doi: 10.1080/00016350903160563.
Kawahara T, Aruga K, Otani H. Characterization of casein phosphopeptides from fermented milk products. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2005 Oct;51(5):377-81.
Ferrazzano GF, Cantile T, Quarto M, Ingenito A, Chianese L, Addeo F. Protective effect of yogurt extract on dental enamel demineralization in vitro. Aust Dent J. 2008 Dec;53(4):314-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1834-7819.2008.00072.x.