New study reveals half of adults are suffering the pain of tooth sensitivity


  Posted by: Dental Design      2nd November 2023

A new study across seven European countries revealed that dentine hypersensitivity is far more widespread than previously thought[i]. The new observational, multi-centre epidemiological study assessed over 3,500 adults. It found over half of the study participants suffered from dentine hypersensitivity[ii].

The study, which was carried out by seven European universities[iii] and was funded by Haleon, aimed to determine the prevalence of dentine hypersensitivity and the risk factors associated with these conditions in adults aged 18 and over in the UK, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland.

Along with the surprisingly high level of incidence, dentine hypersensitivity was revealed to be highly prevalent across all countries in the study and 98% of people showed signs of dental erosion, meaning this will only be an increasing trend in the years to come, unless we act now.

  • Due to the prevalence findings and lack of progress to both reduce and help prevent these conditions, Haleon continue to be committed to support dental health professionals via training and education, providing tools and techniques, via Haleon Health Partner, that facilitate better patient management and understanding between patients and dentists. Now is the time to close the gap to ultimately improve oral health outcomes and reduce the number of people suffering from dentine hypersensitivity.
  • The study also revealed that sensitivity was seen across all age groups but peaked between the ages of 38 to 47 and more commonly affected females, with 56% experiencing it compared to 50% of men. Most sufferers had been experiencing sensitivity for over 2 years, most triggered by cold food or drink, but the study found that only approximately 50% of adults may be treating the condition[iv].

Study author Professor Nicola West from University of Bristol, commented: “This 10-year follow on study has surprisingly shown that sensitivity is increasing. Dentine hypersensitivity is a major issue across all the countries who participated, with the associated pain negatively impacting quality of life. Sensitivity was also associated with other clinical conditions including gingival recession and erosive tooth wear of the tooth enamel. Despite advances in understanding over the last ten years, it is clear from the study that oral health outcomes for dentine hypersensitivity and toothwear are not improving and this is concerning. People need to know about the condition and its impact.”

Dr Stephen Mason, Category Medical Lead, Oral Health, Haleon commented: “One of our key objectives is to expand understanding of the impact of oral health conditions. Studies like this help to fill knowledge gaps and champion additional oral health interventions that can be incorporated into wider prevention programmes.

Dentine hypersensitivity is an important area to explore as the condition can have a significant impact on quality of life. Once the dentine is exposed, the tubules may encounter stimuli such as hot, cold, sweet, and citric foods and drinks, causing an immediate sharp and uncomfortable pain to arise. Many of those who experience this pain often adopt different coping habits from avoiding trigger foods to compromising on their eating habits and social life, limiting their enjoyment and diminishing their quality of life. Despite the significant impact on quality of life, it’s surprising to see that the prevalence of the condition has increased, indicating more needs to be done to help treat patients.”

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[i] Zeola FL, et al Prevalence of dentin hypersensitivity: Systematic review and meta-analysis, 2019; Journal of Dentistry Vol 81. Available at:

[ii] Proportion of participants with whole-mouth max Schiff score 0, 1, 2, 3 Schiff Air Sensitivity Scale (Schiff et al 1994,1996)

[iii] University of Bristol, University of Madrid, University of Bern, University of Bonn, University of Pisa, University of Porto, University of Cork.

[iv] Haleon data on file. 2023.

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