Dentine hypersensitivity: how common is it?

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Dentine hypersensitivity is typically a short sharp pain that arises from exposed dentine as a result of a thermal, tactile osmotic chemical or evaporative stimulus that is not attributable to any other dental pathology. The prevalence of dentine hypersensitivity is reported to range from 1.3% to 92.1%.

The aim of this review was to estimate the prevalence of dentine hypersensitivity in various populations.


Searches were conducted in the Medline/PubMed, Cochrane Library, Wiley Online Library and Web of Science databases with no limitations in date or language. Studies in humans specifically reporting on the prevalence of dentine hypersensitivity were included. Two reviewers independently selected studies, abstracted data and assessed study quality using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.  Fixed and random-effects meta-analysis were conducted and meta-regression models used to explain the variation of the prevalence measures.


  • 65 papers (reporting on 77 studies) involving a total of 97,845 patients were included.
  • The average number of patients per study was 700 (range 40-12,692).
  • 52 studies (68%) were considered to be at high risk of bias, 17 at moderate risk and 7 at low risk.
  • 49 (64%) of studies involved clinical examination.
  • A range of stimuli were used to assess hypersensitivity air blast being the most common being used in 45% of studies.
  • Prevalence ranged from 1.3% to 92.1%
  • Fixed-effect meta-analysis summary prevalence estimate = 11.5% (95%CI: 11.3% – 11.7%.
  • Random effects meta-analysis estimate = 33.5% (95%CI: 30.2–36.7)
  • Studies involving specialty practice patients [mean prevalence: 61.2% (95%CI: 37.0–85.4)] and specific subgroups of the general population [mean: 43.3% (95%CI: 22.9–63.6)] had higher prevalence than general population [mean: 30.3% (95%CI: 27.0–33.7)] and general practice [mean: 28.1% (95%CI: 25.0–31.1)] studies.


The authors concluded: –

The best estimate of dentine hypersensitivity was 11.5% (95%CI:11.3%–11.7%) and the average from all studies was 33.5% (95%CI: 30.2%–36.7%). The extremely high degree of heterogeneity among studies can only be partially explained by characteristics of the studies.


This review has used broad inclusion criteria and chosen to include both clinically assessed and self-assessed (using questionnaires) levels of dentine hypersensitivity. While it might be assumed that clinical estimation of hypersensitivity might be more objective interestingly the meta-regression conducted suggested no differences in the among studies when compared by the method of diagnosis (self-reports vs. clinical examination). They also found the type of diagnostic assessment did not account for the variability in the prevalence.

While this review provides an indicative figure for the prevalence of dentine hypersensitivity the authors point out that it would be beneficial if future studies would adhere to reporting standards in the STROBE statement on strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology


Primary Paper

 Livia Favaro Zeola, Paulo Vinícius Soares, Joana Cunha-Cruz, Prevalence of dentin hypersensitivity: Systematic review and meta-analysis,  Journal of Dentistry, 2019,ISSN 0300-5712,

Other references

Dental Elf – Dentine hypersensitivity blogs


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Derek Richards

Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.

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