This systematic review aimed to evaluate the scientific evidence on the efficacy of desensitizing mouthwashes for the treatment of dentin hypersensitivity (DH) and root sensitivity (RS).

Material and methods

A thorough search in MEDLINE, PubMed and Cochrane Plus Library was conducted up to February 2015. Randomized clinical trials, parallel, double-blinded and placebo-controlled, with a follow-up of at least 6 weeks, reporting changes on response to tactile stimuli, thermal/evaporative stimuli or patients’ subjective assessment of the pain experienced during their daily life after the home use of desensitizing mouthwashes were considered for inclusion.


The screening of titles and abstracts resulted in seven publications meeting the eligibility criteria. The desensitizing agents evaluated were potassium nitrate (n = 5), aluminium lactate (n = 1) and sodium fluoride (n = 1). A meta-analysis for each of the hypersensitivity stimuli was performed. Results demonstrated statistically significant reduction in sensitivity scores favouring test group when DH was assessed by means of patients’ self-reported pain experience (SMD at 8 weeks = 0.77; 95% CI [0.23; 1.31]; P = 0.005). No significant effects were detected in response to tactile or thermal/evaporative stimuli. Meta-regression analysis demonstrated a tendency towards an increased effect favouring test group for the patients’ subjective perception, whereas tactile and thermal/evaporative stimuli showed a slight tendency towards a reduction in the efficacy of the test mouthwash.


There exists a tendency towards a decrease in DH or RS scores with time in both treatment groups, with significant differences in favour of test group when sensitivity is evaluated in terms of patients’ self-reported sensitivity symptoms.

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