Potassium nitrate (Oral)

New teachings support the use of potassium in managing dentine sensitivity

Colgate-Oral Pharmaceuticals

Cutting-edge science and differentiation

In the management of dentine sensitivity it had been argued that potassium-containing dentifrices directly inactivated nerve terminals located within the distal regions of exposed tubules. However, several studies had convincingly demonstrated that adequate concentrations of potassium could not be achieved at the target terminals. The outcomes from McCormack’s CEME probe enabled the construction of a new hypothesis which reasons that potassium stimulates the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) within structures (odontoblasts) of exposed tubules and that NO is able to rapidly diffuse down the tubules and attenuate nerve activity. That is, NO is the messenger for potassium.

Clinical implications of new teachings

This new CEME-generated hypothesis provided dental practitioners, DSAs and hygienists with new teachings that supported their recommendation of Colgate Sensitive (potassium nitrate), and offered researchers a new model for the evaluation of potassium salts, and other novel desensitizing agents in the management of dentine sensitivity.

A young woman sits in a dentists chair, smiling
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Key outcomes

  • Expansion of use within an approved indication

Formal presentations of new teachings by Keith McCormack

  • The role of potassium ion in the management of dentine hypersensitivity: a new hypothesis. 74th General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research, 13th – 17th March 1996, San Fransisco, United States of America.

Published new teachings

  • McCormack K, Davies R. ‘The enigma of potassium ion in the management of dentine hypersensitivity. Is nitric oxide the elusive second messenger?’ Pain 1996 68(1) 5-11.