Dentine hypersensitivity - an enigma? A review of terminology, mechanisms, aetiology and management

Br Dent J. 1999 Dec 11;187(11):606-11; discussion 603. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4800345.


Dentine hypersensitivity is a relatively common problem experienced in clinical dental practice. This condition may disturb the patient during eating, drinking, brushing and sometimes even breathing. Therapeutic intervention by desensitising agents may provide only partial pain relief and recurrence is common. Much remains unknown about dentine hypersensitivity, even the terminology can be questioned. Most of the literature over decades has been concerned with reporting clinical trials proving the efficacy of numerous treatments for dentine hypersensitivity. Indeed, besides haemorrhoids, there can be few other diseases or conditions known to man that can apparently be successfully treated by so many and extremely varied agents and formulations applied topically. This paper will discuss the epidemiology, mechanisms of pain production and aetiological factors for the condition in the hope of developing ideas for more realistic prevention and management strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dentin Sensitivity / etiology
  • Dentin Sensitivity / physiopathology*
  • Dentin Sensitivity / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Terminology as Topic