Material targets dentinal sensitivity issues by using elements already found in the body.
Just 20 years ago, we were saying, “Potassium nitrate this and fluoride that.” It was the only way we knew to prevent root sensitivity. We told our patients they had to use the special toothpaste for at least three weeks before they would feel relief from root sensitivity. The next generation of agents to provide root sensitivity relief were fluoride varnishes, the products known as Duraphat, Super Seal, Gluma, etc.
Fluoride varnishes presented problems. One problem was that they left a sticky and sometimes colored film that made it difficult to do an exam after they were placed. Also, they were only a temporary fix to a long-term problem.
Our toolbox has new armamentarium to combat the root sensitivity that many of our patients experience each day.
For example, NovaMin® was developed by NovaMin Technology, Inc., a leader in bioceramic technology. NovaMin (sodium calcium phosphosilicate) is composed of elements naturally found in the body. When NovaMin comes in contact with saliva or water, it rapidly releases sodium, calcium, and phosphorus to form a new layer of hydroxycarbonate apatite (HCA) on tooth surfaces. The calcium and phosphate naturally found in saliva are usually responsible for repairing the tooth surface with new tooth mineral. NovaMin accelerates this process by increasing the saliva pH and supercharging the saliva with calcium and phosphorus ions. NovaMin particles also stick to the tooth surface and continue to release particles for several days, before the particles transform into HCA. This combination of HCA and adherence of NovaMin particles occlude the open dentinal tubules and reduce sensitivity.
Products containing NovaMin
NuCare® Root Conditioner was introduced in October 2004 by Sunstar Butler and is used while the patient is in the dental chair. Novamin can be used after scaling and root planing to prevent any root sensitivty; in fact, the biomimetics (mimics the biology of the tooth) of this product will asssist with the healing process. This is a perfect adjunctive tool for the hygienist to use on patients who can’t have a root touched with a curette without local anesthesia. NuCare can be placed on a root surface prior to scaling to eliminate sensitivity.
The hygienist mixes this product by using the two interlocking syringes in the kit. One syringe has NovaMin powder and the second contains a 1 percent NovaMin and water mixture. When applied to the root surface, a tacky paste forms. This is rinsed off the tooth after two to three minutes, and patients feel immediate relief. The NovaMin particles are completely biocompatible and will not interfere with periodontal healing.
The NuCare® Prophy Paste is also available from Sunstar Butler. The prophy paste provides high cleaning efficiency with low abrasion. The product also occludes dentinal tubules, which reduces the sensitivity that some patients feel after a dental hygiene visit. There is no pumice in this paste, as it has been replaced by NovaMin particles, which make a less abrasive polishing agent. The prophy paste also releases the stain from the tooth through chemical action by increasing the pH of the tooth surface during the polishing process. The product was tested at a leading university and found to clean as well as the leading pumice-containing prophy paste, with one-tenth the abrasivity. This makes it a real winner! People who experience sensitivity only after prophylaxis will usually have it for two to three days. This prophy paste works to decrease this type of sensitivity. For hygienists concerned about removing sound enamel or damaging restorations, this low-abrasive product cleans very well and is safe to use on most restorative materials.
SootheRx® by Omnii Oral Pharmaceuticals is a take-home desensitizing toothpaste to be used twice a day for two weeks, followed by once a week for several months. The product is designed so patients can use their normal toothpastes or other prescription toothpastes at the same time they use SootheRx. SootheRx reduces root sensitivity through the same tubule occlusion mechanism as the products mentioned above. Unlike the other products, SootheRx is a long-term solution to tooth sensitivity because it is designed as a six-month supply that patients can buy at each six-month recall cycle. The product is highly effective and patients will feel rapid relief, unlike the potassium nitrate toothpastes, which take several weeks to work. SootheRx also fixes the problem that causes the pain - open dentinal tubules - as opposed to just deadening the nerve like the potassium nitrate products.
NovaMin and fluoride
Fluoride enhances the remineralization process using the calcium and phosphorus from saliva. If a patient has a low salivary flow or, for example, xerostomia, Novamin alone or in combination with fluoride can be very beneficial.
NovaMin can be used in products with or without fluoride and releases calcium and phosphorous ions. Therefore, it doesn’t just rely on salivary flow for remineralization to occur (see related photo at beginning of article). NovaMin reacts to water alone.
There are many benefits from NovaMin and fluoride for the practice and for patients. They resolve frustrating problems for the patient, hygienist, and dentist; they are effective treatments that build patient loyalty; they reinforce the need to see the hygienist; and they create less sensitivity, which means better patient compliance. In return, patients are less likely to regret their dental hygiene appointments.
For many years, dentin hypersensitivity has been called an enigma. We know it exists, but we have yet to find what the true and singular underlying factor is. For years, we have searched to make root sensitivity nonexistent. Less sensitivity means better patient compliance, which benefits the dental practice in every way. NovaMin is a new solution to treat dentin hypersensitivity, which will rock dentistry for years to come.
Debra Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, is founder of Dental Practice Solutions, a speaking and dental consulting business specializing in a team approach to prevention and nonsurgical treatment of periodontal disease. She may be reached for speaking, questions, or comments at (866) 206-6364 or [email protected]. Visit her Web site at www.dentalpracticesolutions.com.