BDJ Open 2017;3: 17011

One of the fascinating aspects of our online, open access journal BDJ Open is the way in which it is helping us to gain a wider international perspective on oral health. Since we launched it in March 2015, it has garnered considerable attention from the research community and we have received a very encouraging range of papers both in terms of subject matter and geographical reach.

Often alluded to in international political and philosophical texts and speeches is the fact that 'we are all human'. What becomes apparent in giving credence to this sentiment is that despite opening the BDJ portfolio up to a greater range of subject matter, some of it is very diverse while other is surprisingly similar. That is an observation and not a criticism. It reinforces the fact that as humans we suffer from the same oral conditions wherever we are in the world. In a curious way it is almost reassuring.

Dentinal hypersensitivity is just such a common oral condition. Characterised by pain derived from exposed dentine in response to chemical, thermal, tactile or osmotic stimuli, which cannot be accounted for by any other dental defect or disease, it develops as a result of gingival recession and/or erosion and abrasion of enamel, leading to exposure of the underlying dentine. Despite a huge amount of research, including this study, as to the effectiveness of a desensitising dentifrice containing 5% calcium sodium phosphosilicate (CSPS), much still remains a mystery about the condition with reports on its epidemiology varying widely across populations, ages and gender.

Of course literature reviews serve an important function in bringing together our collective knowledge on a given subject but the possibility of a single publication becoming the focus of particular areas of research is also an appealing proposition. I am not suggesting that BDJ Open becomes the journal of dentine hypersensitivity research but it will be interesting as the publication develops to track the frequency of submissions on various topics and possibly to identify areas that need more research, as well as those which arguably need less as the answers seem to be already apparent. In the case of this paper, the dentifrice containing 5% CSPS improved dentinal hypersensitivity with both episodic and continuous twice-daily usage regimens over 24 weeks and was well tolerated, indicating that continuing developments in toothpaste technology continue to be an important area of oral health research.

By Stephen Hancocks

Author Q&A Steve Mason GSK Consumer Healthcare

Why did you choose to study hypersensitivity?

As an industry researcher, responsible for Sensodyne, I am always seeking to understand the condition of dentine hypersensitivity and its associated sequela better. Whether this is research to understand the epidemiology, prevalence, evolution through the life course, impact on patients' oral health-related quality of life, and of course patient responses to new and existing potential treatments options.

What was the biggest challenge in carrying out your study?

For me the biggest challenge of this type of large trial, quite apart from the standardisation and quality standards required to perform the clinical study over many weeks, is the analysis and interpretation of the complex data set.

What is the main difference to researching in a corporate rather than academic environment?

I personally think research should be research regardless of environment and should be transparent. The quality and robustness of the hypotheses being tested must always be of the highest standard. From my perspective, perhaps the main difference I see is that, in a corporate set-up all research needs to be aligned to overall business strategies and goals, and this leads to significant internal governance (eg review, approval and release of funding) of potential research proposals prior to execution of the study. In the academic research environment external independent review of large clinical study grant applications is more likely to be undertaken.