Does Sensodyne Have Fluoride?

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

All sensodyne toothpastes have fluoride in them but the type of fluoride may differ depending on the product line. As evidence, look no further than a statement directly from Sensodyne where they explicitly state that they have it.

Sensodyne toothpastes contain a number of ingredients.

All Sensodyne products contain fluoride, which helps fight cavities, so you can maintain healthy teeth every day.

Pronamel intensive enamel repair

However there are reasons why they use fluoride in their products. In order to have a complete understanding of why, you should look towards their raison d’etre.

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.

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.

Their product lines which uses 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.

Their product lines which uses 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.

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.

Read our full article on sodium fluoride vs stannous fluoride here.

The Verdict

Does sensodyne have fluoride? Yes, they use it in ALL of their products and they don’t have a single product offering without it. 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.


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