Dentine hypersensitivity – a transient condition with genuine life impacts

Dentine hypersensitivity is a common and often under-diagnosed dental condition affecting up to one in three adults (Addy, 2002). However, unlike other conditions that result in dental pain, research indicates that many sensitivity sufferers do not seek advice from a dental professional and instead may develop coping strategies (GSK data on file).

Understanding the patient impact of sensitive teeth

To understand the impact of dentine hypersensitivity on quality of life, a team from the School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield, in collaboration with GSK, developed the Dentine Hypersensitivity Experience Questionnaire (DHEQ) (GSK data on file). The DHEQ explores how quality of life is affected by dentine hypersensitivity, including its impact on patients’ daily activities or emotional wellbeing (GSK data on file).

Results from six clinical trials in over 800 patients with dentine hypersensitivity presented at IADR show the wide ranging impact of the condition on everyday life:

  • 70% felt it took the pleasure out of eating and drinking
  • 33% felt that it made them feel old.

Your advice could make a difference for patients with dentine hypersensitivity

A consumer research report shows that 60% of sufferers do not treat the condition with a sensitivity toothpaste, which may mean they suffer unnecessary pain (GSK data on file). The use of a specialist toothpaste is recognised as a non-invasive first-line treatment for dentine hypersensitivity (Canadian Advisory Board on Dentin Hypersensitivity, 2003). There are two approaches recognised by dental professionals for managing dentine hypersensitivity at home – occluding exposed dentine tubules to help prevent fluid movement and nerve stimulation, or desensitising with potassium ions to help stop the pulpal nerves from transmitting a response to external stimuli.

Brands dedicated to the pursuit of a life beyond sensitivity, such as Sensodyne, offer a choice of formulations using different main ingredients. Sensodyne Novamin formulations build a hydroxyapatite-like layer over and within dentine tubules and help to repair exposed dentine. Sensodyne formulations with stannous fluoride occlude exposed dentine tubules, helping to reduce dentinal fluid movement in response to external stimuli. GSK has used its scientific expertise to develop formulation enhancements to offer variants with additional patient benefits including Sensodyne Rapid Relief, which offers fast relief from dentine hypersensitivity and product variants with whitening or extra freshness to meet individual preferences and offer patient choice.

Advice to help break the cycle of dentine hypersensitivity

In order to provide long-term protection for patients with dentine hypersensitivity it is important to break the cycle of recurrence, which occurs when they stop treatment:

  1. Recommend a specialist toothpaste to help provide relief from pain
  2. Provide long-lasting protection by recommending continued twice-daily use
  3. Long-term relief can help improve quality of life.

Dentine hypersensitivity affects one third of the adult population and research shows the extent of the daily impacts on quality of life. With twice daily brushing, specialist desensitising toothpastes such as Sensodyne Rapid Relief can offer long-term relief and also offer additional benefits such as fresh breath to help meet a patient’s daily oral care needs.


Addy M (2002) Dentine hypersensitivity: New perspectives on an old problem. Int Dent J 52: 367-75

Canadian Advisory Board on Dentin Hypersensitivity (2003) Consensus-based recommendations for the diagnosis and management of dentin hypersensitivity. J Can Dent Assoc 69: 221-62
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