Quantification of dentin hypersensitivity (DH) is challenging and requires standardised, graded stimulation by natural-like stimuli.
The present study aimed at identifying DH subjects and longitudinally monitoring their pain thresholds by cold air quantitative sensory testing (QST).
Subject recruitment started with an online DH questionnaire. Respondents were screened by dental air stimulation. Sensitising and habituating subjects were excluded. A recently developed stimulation device was employed for cold air QST. Single tooth DH was verified by applying an equi-intense stimulus to a control tooth. Descriptive statistics were applied for subject characteristics. Mean values were calculated for the stimulation parameters temperature and air flow. Reliability of temperatures for detecting pain and for evoking moderate pain over multiple time points within a 3-week period was analysed by two-way random single- and average-measure intra-class correlation coefficients.
A total of 353 persons completed the online DH questionnaire of which 117 were screened. Forty-four passed the screening, yet 15 were excluded for various reasons. Twenty-nine subjects were monitored by QST across 3 weeks. Results revealed a high intra-individual stability of the temperature inducing moderate to strong pain intensity (MPI) (single-measure ICC of T 0.83, P < 0.001). Mean T was -13.69°C, yet it highly varied among the 29 subjects (SD ± 10.04°C).
Using a novel approach, namely dental QST based on cold air stimuli, we present evidence for temporally stable DH perceptions over a 3-week period. The method fulfils international guideline requirements and is recommendable for obtaining valid results when testing various interventions for DH management.