Treating sensitive patients one tooth at a time

Patti Maragliano, RDH, BSDH, identifies two products she uses to treat hypersensitivity during hygiene appointments: Colgate Sensitive Pre-Procedural Desensitizing Paste and Crest Sensi-Stop Strips.

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Patti Maragliano, RDH, BSDH, identifies two products she uses to treat sensitivity during hygiene appointments: Colgate Sensitive Pre-Procedural Desensitizing Paste and Crest Sensi-Stop Strips.

I am the "new" hygienist in a great prosthodontic practice where I treat terrific patients who all have beautiful smiles and high-quality restorations. When meeting patients for the first time, I appreciate them letting me know about specific areas with recession where they have historically experienced sensitivity to scaling or to cold. In the past, I routinely recommended toothpastes containing potassium nitrate to help with sensitivity, but now I have found two great products that are helping me to desensitize my patients' teeth and that allow my patients to be comfortable during their hygiene visits and for several weeks after their appointments.

Colgate Sensitive Pre-Procedural Desensitizing Paste is a product that is effective and very easy to use. It comes in a tube or in premeasured, prophy paste–sized unit containers. I apply the paste to teeth with exposed root or dentin surfaces using a rubber prophy cup before I begin scaling and then use the paste to polish the patient’s teeth after the prophylaxis. Patients report they have virtually instant relief from both tactile and temperature sensitivity. It is amazing to me when I see patients comfortably rinse with cold water immediately following one application of the paste. Colgate Sensitive Pre-Procedural Desensitizing Paste uses Pro-Argin technology based on arginine and calcium. According to Colgate, the desensitization can last four weeks, but I have had patients tell me the relief lasts much longer.

Crest Sensi-Stop Strips are another product I use to treat dentin and root surface hypersensitivity. This product is dispensed using thin, flexible strips with dipotassium oxalate on one side of each strip. To use the strip, you simply peel off the backing and gently place it on the sensitive area. I leave the strip in place for 10 minutes. After removing the strip, I proceed with treatment. According to the manufacturer, the Sensi-Stop Strips provide protection and desensitization for one month. My patients have told me several times that their comfort has lasted longer than a month. An added benefit to the Crest Sensi-Stop Strips is that they are available over the counter. Patients can apply the strips at home if they require further relief.

The Colgate Sensitive Pre-Procedural Desensitizing Paste and Crest Sensi-Stop Strips work by occluding dentinal tubules. Both products are unique in that they create an acid-resistant barrier that I have found provides more profound desensitization than other products. I sometimes use both products together, applying the Crest Sensi-Stop Strip first, and then using the Colgate Sensitive Pre-Procedural Desensitizing Paste to polish the patients teeth at the end of the prophy.

Your patients will undoubtedly be grateful to you for helping to relieve their sensitivity. Colgate Sensitive Pre-Procedural Desensitizing Paste and Crest Sensi-Stop Strips can help patients be more comfortable during and after their hygiene visits, improve their treatment outcomes, and enhance their quality of life.


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Patti Maragliano, RDH, BSDH, is a dental hygienist with more than 20 years of experience. She holds an adjunct clinical faculty position in the dental hygiene program at SUNY Orange in Middletown, New York, and she treats patients in a prosthodontic practice in Wappinger Falls, New York. She is passionate and committed to the dental hygiene profession, loves working with students, and is also the vice president of the Mid-Hudson Dental Hygienists’ Association. Patti is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and obtained her bachelor’s degree at the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists and Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.


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