Efficiency of desensitizing materials in xerostomic patients with head and neck cancer: a comparative clinical study



To assess the clinical effectiveness of four desensitizing materials in patients who are xerostomic due to radiotherapy for head and neck cancer (HNC) in comparison to a healthy group with normal salivation.

Methods and materials

The study was conducted as a split-mouth randomized clinical trial. Forty HNC patients (group A) and 46 healthy patients (group B) suffering from dentin hypersensitivity (DH) were included. Salivary flow was determined through a scialometric test. Hypersensitivity was assessed with air stimulus and tactile stimulus. The materials used as desensitizing agents were Vertise Flow, Universal Dentin Sealant, Clearfil Protect Bond, and Flor-Opal Varnish. The response was recorded before application of the materials, immediately after, and at 1 week, 4 weeks, and 12 weeks.


Salivary flow rates in groups A/B were 0.15/0.53 mL/min (unstimulated) and 0.54/1.27 mL/min (stimulated), respectively. In group A, 100 hypersensitive teeth were included. Application of the desensitizing agents significantly decreased the hypersensitivity immediately and throughout the 4-week follow-up (p < 0.001). However, after the 12-week timepoint, a loss of efficacy was detected in all agents (p = 0.131). In group B, 116 hypersensitive teeth were included. The materials performed a more stable action, although a loss of effectiveness was detected at 12-week control (p = 0.297).


The efficiency of the desensitizing agents after the first application was similar in both groups. In the radiated group, this effect lasted for shorter periods than in healthy controls.

Clinical relevance

HNC patients with hyposalivation may be a new risk group for DH.

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The authors declare that no financial relationships exist regarding any of the products involved in this study.

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Correspondence to Roberto Pinna.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

The protocol and informed consent forms were approved by the Ethics Committee of the University of Sassari (no. 1000/CE).

The study followed CONSORT guidelines and was registered at the US National Institutes of Health (ClinicalTrials.gov) # NCT02766127.

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Pinna, R., Milia, E., Usai, P. et al. Efficiency of desensitizing materials in xerostomic patients with head and neck cancer: a comparative clinical study. Clin Oral Invest 24, 2259–2269 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00784-019-03081-x

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  • Dry mouth
  • Hyposalivation
  • Dentin hypersensitivity
  • Radiation therapy
  • Head and neck cancer