Little evidence available for the effectiveness of arginine-containing toothpastes in managing dentine hypersensitivity


Last year we looked at a number of studies that looked at the effectiveness of various toothpastes in reducing dentine hypersensitivity (Dental Elf 30th October 2012).  The aim of this review was to assess the effectiveness of arginine-containing desensitising toothpastes in comparison to control agents in reducing dentine hypersensitivity (DH).   The aetiology of DH is usually reported as multifactorial and while this review focuses on the use of arginine containing pastes it also provides a useful table of the various desensitizing agent together with the mechanism of action.

The reviewers searched the Medline, Cochrane Central, Embase and Lilacs databases  for randomised and controlled clinical trials. The primary outcome considered was change in pain/sensitivity reported by tactile and air-blast stimuli.  Study selection, data extraction, quality assessment and risk of bias assessment was conducted independently in duplicate.

  • Only two studies involving 243 patients in total were included.
  • Both studies were conducted by the same team.
  • One study was of 3 days duration the other of 8 weeks.
  • Both studies reported greater improvement in DH with the arginine paste.

The authors concluded

Data identified indicates a potential role for arginine-containing toothpastes in managing dentine hypersensitivity. However, this conclusion is based on small sample sizes and the studies identified did not follow patients up in the medium to long term. The authors recommend that there is a need for well-designed RCTs to be conducted prior to any definitive recommendations being made.


Sharif MO, Iram S, Brunton PA. Effectiveness of arginine containing toothpastes in treating dentine hypersensitivity: A systematic Review. J Dent. 2013 Jan 31. doi:pii: S0300-5712(13)00027-4. 10.1016/j.jdent.2013.01.009. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23376174.

Dental Elf 30th Oct 2012 – Trial shows improvements in dentine hypersensitivity with different toothpastes


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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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