How can sensitive dentine become hypersensitive and can it be reversed?

J Dent. 2013 Jul;41 Suppl 4(0 4):S49-55. doi: 10.1016/S0300-5712(13)70006-X.


This paper reviews a number of studies in oral biology and endodontics that deal with the reactivity of the pulpo-dentine complex in response to mechanical and immunological stimuli. It can be hypothesized that these reactions could also apply to changes in dentine sensitivity following periodontal procedures. Some of these changes involve neurogenic inflammation of the pulp under exposed open tubules; this increases the rate of outward fluid flow through the tubules, making the overlying exposed dentine more sensitive. Other changes may be due to inflammation-related nerve sprouting of pulpal nerves, which can lead to innervation of more tubules than normal. Changes may also involve upregulation of new, more sensitive ion channels in the membranes of these nerves. The goal of the paper is to increase awareness of the complex issues involved in dentine sensitivity, so that future investigators may develop agents or techniques to stimulate mechanisms that mitigate dentine sensitivity, or to block mechanisms that aggravate the condition, for therapeutic effect.

Keywords: Dentine sensitivity; Pulpal reaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Pulp / innervation
  • Dentin / innervation
  • Dentin / physiology
  • Dentin Permeability / physiology
  • Dentin Sensitivity / etiology*
  • Dentin Sensitivity / prevention & control
  • Dentinal Fluid / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / immunology
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Neurogenic Inflammation / etiology
  • Smear Layer


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Ion Channels