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Does Sensodyne Have Fluoride?

Updated: Jan 19

All Sensodyne toothpastes have fluoride, either stannous fluoride (SnF2) or sodium fluoride (NaF) but it depends on the specific product line. You may think fluoride is fluoride but these two types have different effects on your teeth, one is a desensitizer while the other isn't.


Sensodyne Product

Type of Fluoride

Sensitivity & Gum

Stannous fluoride

Rapid relief

Stannous fluoride

Repair & protect deep repair

Stannous fluoride

Complete protection

Stannous fluoride

Nourish

Sodium fluoride

Natural white (charcoal)

Sodium fluoride

True white

Sodium fluoride

Essential Care

Sodium fluoride

Sensodyne Pronamel

Sodium fluoride


Table of contents:


Why does Sensodyne have fluoride?

Sensodyne uses fluoride in all of their products because this is one of the few toothpaste ingredients that possess the ability to desensitize teeth. Most notably, stannous fluoride in toothpaste form and sodium fluoride in higher concentrations.


Sensodyne pronamel active shield
Sensodyne pronamel active shield

That is important to understand because it aligns with the company's purpose and mission as a toothpaste brand. The company was born to fight teeth sensitivity and their mission revolves around eliminating it from this world. In fact, the specific market that they are targeting is individuals with teeth sensitivity.


Their mission statement: "Our mission is to provide lasting protection from tooth sensitivity. Since 1961, Sensodyne has been creating toothpastes specifically designed to help people overcome tooth sensitivity pain while still providing other benefits such as cavity protection and breath freshening."


They are here to rid the world of sensitivity by providing relief via their toothpaste offerings. That is why they have it in all of their products and is essentially how sensodyne works.


 

What types of fluoride does Sensodyne use?

There are different types of fluoride and sensodyne utilizes two different versions of it.

  • Stannous fluoride (SnF2)

  • Sodium fluoride (NaF)


Stannous fluoride

Stannous fluoride is one of the primary desensitizing agents in Sensodyne toothpaste and it is essentially fluoride mixed with tin (Sn). According to PubChem, another name for it is Tin(II) fluoride.


You may be surprised but it is the tin that is combined with it that grants it the ability to reduce the sensitivity of your teeth. The tin forms a complex with zinc, phosphate, and silicon that can clog all open dentinal tubules by occluding them.


Smear plugs and dentinal tubules
Credit: KoR

Having occluded dentinal tubules decreases sensitivity because it prevents stimuli from entering and interacting with nerve endings in the tubules. Individuals with chronic sensitivity tend to have open or even enlarged orifices to these tubules.


Essentially, stannous fluoride reduces teeth sensitivity by occluding open dentinal tubules via the tin deposits that it forms. Studies have proven this to be quite the effective reliever of sensitivity by significantly alleviating symptoms after 8 weeks of use.


Sensodyne containing SnF2:

  • Sensitivity and Gum

  • Rapid relief

  • Repair and protect deep repair

  • Complete protection


Their products with stannous fluoride use it as the primary desensitizing agent in the toothpaste. Potassium nitrate, another desensitizer is never mixed with it so you'll only have one or the other.


Sodium fluoride

Sodium fluoride does not statistically reduce sensitivity for OTC toothpaste concentrations. However it is often combined with another desensitizer called potassium nitrate which gives it the desensitizing effect.


Potassium nitrate (KNO3) treats dentin hypersensitivity in a different way than stannous fluoride. It doesn't occlude dentinal tubules but will desensitize the nerve directly by rendering the nerve unexcitable.


crest depolarization repolarization
Credit: Crest

KNO3 is able to provide relief from hypersensitivity by supplying an overabundance of potassium (K+) to the nerve endings. It floods the extracellular matrix with potassium which inverts the normal concentration gradient.

  • Normal concentration gradient: low K extracellularly and high K intracellularly.

  • In the presence of potassium nitrate: high K extracellularly and low K intracellularly.


Molecules typically move from an area of high concentration towards a low one. In order for an action potential to generate (send a pain signal), the potassium has to flow from inside the cell to outside. Since the KNO3 inverts the gradient, potassium is unable to flow outside thus preventing the signal from generating.


In this case, the main ingredient which alleviates sensitivity would be potassium nitrate while the sodium fluoride assists in doing so. A big benefit of having the NaF is that it provides the toothpaste cavity protection attributes.


Sensodyne containing NaF:

  • Nourish

  • Natural White (activated charcoal)

  • True White

  • Essential Care

  • Pronamel


As a general rule of thumb, all of the prominent "whitening" product lines from sensodyne WILL use sodium fluoride over the stannous one. The reason is due to the fact the latter can potentially stain your teeth which is counterproductive to whitening.


The fact that sensodyne pronamel only uses sodium fluoride is what makes sensodyne vs pronamel different.


 

Stannous fluoride vs Sodium fluoride

Both of them contain fluoride but they're stabilized by being attached to different elements. Tin for stannous fluoride and sodium for sodium fluoride.


In terms of desensitizing teeth when used as a toothpaste, stannous fluoride is superior since it is able to occlude open tubules. The sodium fluoride on its own does not possess that ability but it does gain it when it is paired with potassium nitrate.


In regards to cavity prevention, stannous fluoride also has an advantage since it has been shown to reduce plaque and gum bleeding. It has these additional effects due to the tin that is is attached to, which has been shown to be antibacterial when taken up by bacteria.


However that doesn't mean that sodium fluoride is ineffective because when it is applied to teeth in varnish form it can desensitize them. The fluoride varnish is just a highly concentrated version of sodium fluoride, 20x to be precise. The mechanism via how it does it is by forming a calcium fluoride-like layer that protects the tooth from stimuli.


The Verdict

Does sensodyne have fluoride? Yes, they use it in ALL of their toothpastes and they don't have a single product offering without it. According to our dentists in Long Island City, the main benefit for choosing and using sensodyne is for its anti-sensitivity properties.


They are able to offer this effect by incorporating stannous fluoride into their products which directly reduces sensitivity. However they also utilize a different desensitizer called potassium nitrate which they pair with sodium fluoride.


Both are effective in treating dentin hypersensitivity so give them a try. If one doesn't work for you, you should give the other ingredient a try and see which one is more effective. Having multiple options is always better than not having any.

David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

Association Memberships:

Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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