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Hygiene Message in a Bottle Mailbag: Relief for patients with root exposure and sensitivity

Dec. 12, 2016
Colleen M. Olson, RDH, BBA, discusses relieving sensitivity for patients whose discomfort leads them to dislike prophies, periodontal maintenance, or scaling and root planing.

The Hygiene Message in a Bottle Mailbag is a monthly feature of the e-newsletter, Pearls for Your Practice: The Product Navigator. Each month, Colleen Olson, RDH, BBA, the editorial director of the Hygiene Product Navigator, will answer reader-submitted questions to help you navigate your dental hygiene product decisions (and more!). This month, she discusses relieving sensitivity for patients whose discomfort leads them to dislike prophies, periodontal maintenance, or scaling and root planing.


Briana from Texas wrote: Help! I have several patients who absolutely despise coming to get their teeth cleaned because of root exposure and sensitivity. How can I help them?


Thanks for the question!

We want our hygiene patients to be as comfortable as possible during prophies, periodontal maintenance, and scaling and root planing. One of my favorite choices for patients with dentinal hypersensitivity is Colgate Sensitive Pre-Procedural Desensitizing Paste. This is a fine polishing paste consisting of 8% arginine in a calcium carbonate base, which seals dentinal tubules to prevent sensitivity. It is easily applied in the office with a prophy angle and comes in a tube or in individual prophy cups. It can be applied before or after procedures and has demonstrated efficacy well after patients leave the office. This makes the Sensitive Pre-Procedural Desensitizing Paste ideal for scaling and root planing patients who may begin to experience sensitivity after they have left the office and local anesthetic begins to wear off.

In just one of the many randomized, controlled clinical studies I found on PubMed, 50 periodontitis patients were selected to receive either an 8% arginine and calcium carbonate paste or a fluoride-free prophy paste following scaling and root planing. This study concluded that “the single in-office application of the 8% arginine–calcium carbonate desensitizing paste after scaling and root planing provided significant immediate reduction in [dentinal] hypersensitivity, which sustained over a six-week period.” (1)

While we have topical anesthetics such as benzocaine and Oraqix to help our patients with soft-tissue sensitivity, I’m glad to have a product that can help with root sensitivity in my arsenal. Products like Colgate Sensitive Pre-Procedural Desensitizing Paste help me ensure that my patients have the best experience with the least amount of discomfort possible.


1. Pepelassi E, Rahiotis C, Peponi E, Kakaboura A, Vrotsos I. Effectiveness of an in-office arginine-calcium carbonate paste on dentine hypersensitivity in periodontitis patients: A double-blind, randomized controlled trial. J Clin Periodontol. 2015;42(1):37-45.

Editor's note: Do you have a question for Colleen? Is there a product you'd like to see her review? Or would you like to submit your own hygiene product article? Send an email to [email protected]. You might just see it in the Hygiene Product Navigator! If you're not a Product Navigator subscriber, click here to sign up.

More reading

November 2016 | Fluoride varnish and fluorosis
October 2016|Prophy paste grit and its effects on enamel
September 2016 |
Arestin versus PerioChip

Colleen M. Olson, RDH,BBA, is an editorial director for the e-newsletter, Pearls for Your Practice: The Product Navigator. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Texas A&M University in 2008 and worked in sales for five years. She graduated from the Blinn College Dental Hygiene program in 2013. She is a full-time mom to Bonnie Grace and is currently a part-time hygienist in private practice in San Antonio, Texas. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, Zach, and their families.
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