Dentine hypersensitivity. A study of the patency of dentinal tubules in sensitive and non-sensitive cervical dentine

J Clin Periodontol. 1987 May;14(5):280-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051x.1987.tb01533.x.


Based on the hydrodynamic theory for stimulus transmission across dentine, it would be logical to conclude that teeth exhibiting the clinical symptoms referred to as dentine hypersensitivity should have dentinal tubules open at the root surface and patent to the pulp. With the exception of studies on cut dentine, there is little direct evidence to support this conclusion. In this study, caries-free teeth with exposed cervical root areas scheduled for extraction which were classified as non-sensitive or hypersensitive after suitable stimulation were examined by scanning electron microscopy. Hypersensitive teeth showed highly significantly increased numbers of tubules per unit area (approximately 8 X) compared with non-sensitive teeth. Tubule diameters were significantly wider (approximately 2 X) in hypersensitive compared to non-sensitive teeth. The number of teeth showing the penetration of methylene blue through the zone of exposed cervical dentine was larger and the depth of penetration greater in hypersensitive teeth compared to non-sensitive teeth. The results provide further evidence that stimulus transmission across dentine in hypersensitive teeth is mediated by a hydrodynamic mechanism. An understanding of factors which open dentinal tubules would seem important if attempts to prevent or treat dentine hypersensitivity are to be successful.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Dentin / physiology
  • Dentin / ultrastructure*
  • Dentin Sensitivity / pathology*
  • Dentin Sensitivity / physiopathology
  • Diffusion
  • Humans
  • Methylene Blue
  • Pilot Projects
  • Rheology


  • Methylene Blue