Prevalence of dentine hypersensitivity and study of associated factors: a European population-based cross-sectional study

J Dent. 2013 Oct;41(10):841-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2013.07.017. Epub 2013 Aug 1.


Objectives: Dentine hypersensitivity (DH) manifests as a transient but arresting oral pain. The incidence is thought to be rising, particularly in young adults, due to increases in consumption of healthy, yet erosive, diets. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of DH and relative importance of risk factors, in 18-35 year old Europeans.

Methods: In 2011, 3187 adults were enrolled from general dental practices in France, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Finland, Latvia and Estonia. DH was clinically evaluated by cold air tooth stimulation, patient pain rating (yes/no), accompanied by investigator pain rating (Schiff 0-3). Erosive toothwear (BEWE index 0-3) and gingival recession (mm) were recorded. Patients completed a questionnaire regarding the nature of their DH, erosive dietary intake and toothbrushing habits.

Results: 41.9% of patients reported pain on tooth stimulation and 56.8% scored ≥1 on Schiff scale for at least one tooth. Clinical elicited sensitivity was closely related to Schiff score and to a lesser degree, questionnaire reported sensitivity (26.8%), possibly reflecting the transient nature of the pain, alongside good coping mechanisms. Significant associations were found between clinically elicited DH and erosive toothwear and gingival recession. The questionnaire showed marked associations between DH and risk factors including heartburn/acid reflux, vomiting, sleeping medications, energy drinks, smoking and acid dietary intake.

Conclusion: Overall, the prevalence of DH was high compared to many published findings, with a strong, progressive relationship between DH and erosive toothwear, which is important to recognise for patient preventive therapies and clinical management of DH pain.

Keywords: Dentine hypersensitivity; Erosion; Oral pain; Toothwear.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dentin Sensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Energy Drinks / statistics & numerical data
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / epidemiology
  • Gingival Recession / epidemiology
  • Heartburn / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Tooth Erosion / epidemiology
  • Toothbrushing / statistics & numerical data
  • Vomiting / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Antidepressive Agents