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Sensitive Teeth and Contact Dermatitis from Using Strontium Chloride

Q: After having root canal a few weeks ago, my teeth have been really sensitive to cold and to sugary foods. I switched to a toothpaste with strontium chloride, which I heard was good for sensitive teeth, but after just two days of using it, my lips have become chapped. What's worse, every balm, salve or ointment I've tried seems to make the peeling, cracking and pain worse. What should I do, and will I ever eat ice cream again?

Dr. Donnica:
It sounds like you have two different problems here: sensitive teeth and a bad reaction to something in the new toothpaste. This latter problem is actually being made worse by the lip balms you are using. My first recommendation is to stop using this toothpaste as well as the lip ointments and call your dentist. I am concerned that there may have been a complication with the root canal. Dental hypersensitivity may be a sign of an underlying problem, such as a cavity, cracked tooth, dying root, nocturnal tooth grinding, or gum disease. Many adults have sensitive teeth that hurt when exposed to heat, cold, brushing, or acidic foods. This occurs when the dentin, the layer below the hard enamel, becomes exposed, usually from years of wear and tear, but possibly as a result of dental work, gum disease, grinding, or improper brushing.

Strontium chloride is one of three ingredients that help ease sensitive teeth. You may be allergic to it or to one of the other ingredients (e.g. flavoring) in the new toothpaste. Until you can see your dentist, switch back to your former toothpaste brand. You may also be allergic to one of the ingredients in your lip products, a relatively common occurrence even though they are marketed to protect lips. You may want to try Dr. Dan's Corti Balm TM available online. This is the only truly hypoallergenic lip balm with 1% hydrocortisone. It does not contain lanolin, menthol or commonly used acids (many of which are present in popular lip balms), which may cause allergic reactions or irritation, especially when the lips are already cracked. Many lip balms also contain fragrances, which can cause allergic reactions or irritation.

Be sure to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, use a room humidifier in dry environments, and use a hypoallergenic sunscreen or zinc oxide to prevent sun or wind damage (yes, even in the winter). While licking your lips may seem like a good way to moisturize them, it can also worsen the condition and you may be doing it without being aware of it.

Created: 10/29/2005  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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