Laser therapy for dentinal hypersensitivity

Mina Mahdian, Soodabeh Behboodi, Yumi Ogata, Zuhair S Natto

Key messages

‐ Lasers may slightly reduce pain after 24 hours. They may reduce pain beyond 24 hours but the evidence is very uncertain.
‐ Lasers do not appear to cause adverse (unwanted) effects.
‐ We need future studies to strengthen the evidence and investigate the impact of laser treatment on quality of life.

What causes tooth hypersensitivity?

Tooth hypersensitivity is short, sharp pain that is not due to a dental disease or problem such as caries (holes in the teeth) and can occur when teeth come into contact with hot or cold food or drinks; cold air; or specific food or drinks such as sugar and fizzy (carbonated) drinks. It can also occur when people brush their teeth or receive professional dental care.

How can we treat tooth hypersensitivity?

An option for treating tooth hypersensitivity is to use laser (light) therapy. Lasers produce a narrow, focused beam of light that is applied to the painful tooth to treat it. Depending on the type of laser used, the treatment either aims to seal off the painful area, or to numb it.

What did we want to find out?

We wanted to find out if lasers work to treat tooth hypersensitivity, and whether they are associated with any unwanted (adverse) effects.

What did we do?

We searched for studies that compared lasers against a placebo (dummy treatment) or no treatment for treating tooth hypersensitivity. We compared and summarized the results of the studies and rated our confidence in the evidence, based on factors such as study methods and sizes.

What did we find?

We found 23 studies of different durations up to 6 months that involved 936 people (2296 teeth) over 12 years of age with tooth hypersensitivity.

The evidence:

‐ suggests that lasers may slightly reduce pain after 24 hours compared to placebo or no treatment;
‐ is not robust enough to determine if lasers reduce pain beyond 24 hours or not; and
‐ suggests that lasers do not cause unwanted effects.

No studies investigated the impact of laser treatment on people’s quality of life.

What are the limitations of the evidence?

The main limitations of the evidence are that studies:

‐ reported inconsistent results;
‐ were conducted in ways that may have introduced errors into their results; and
‐ produced imprecise results when they were combined together.

Due to these limitations, we have little confidence in the evidence.

How up to date is this evidence?

The evidence is up to date to October 2020.

Read the full review.

Mahdian  M, Behboodi  S, Ogata  Y, Natto  ZS. Laser therapy for dentinal hypersensitivity. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2021, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD009434. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009434.pub2. Accessed 15 July 2021.