A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed to evaluate the risk and intensity of tooth sensitivity (TS) after dental bleaching with a desensitizer-containing and a desensitizer-free bleaching gel in adult patients. Color change and risk of gingival sensitivity was also evaluated.


A comprehensive search was performed MEDLINE via PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature database (LILACS), Brazilian Library in Dentistry (BBO), EMBASE and Cochrane Library, and System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe (SIGLE) without restrictions to identify randomized clinical trials. Abstracts from the annual conference of the International Association for Dental Research (1990–2016), unpublished and ongoing trials registries, dissertations, and theses were also searched. The quality of the evidence was rated using the Grading of Recommendations: Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach.


After duplicates were removed, 1352 articles were identified. After title and abstract screening, only 47 studies remained for qualitative evaluation. Most of the studies had unclear risk of bias. No difference between groups were observed for the risk ratio of TS (risk ratio = 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.74–1.33); intensity of TS (standardized difference in means [SMD] = 0.04; 95% CI = 0.79–0.70); color change in shade guide units (SMD – 0.04; 95% CI = 0.50–0.42); color change in ΔE* (SMD = 0.41 (95% CI = 0.07–0.89); and risk ratio of gingival irritation (SMD = 1.05; 95% CI = 0.81–1.36). Except for the risk of TS, graded as moderate quality of evidence, all other outcomes were rated as low and very low quality.


Incorporating desensitizers in the bleaching gel did not reduce the risk of TS, and the quality of this evidence was considered moderate. On the other hand, the intensity of TS, color change, and risk of gingival irritation was similar between groups, but the quality of the evidence for these outcomes was graded as low or very low, thus reducing the level of confidence in these outcomes.

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