Can Intra-Oral Qualitative Sensory Testing Foretell Postoperative Dental Pain? A Preliminary Report

Alona Emodi-Perlman*, Deia Altarescu, Pessia Frideman-Rubin, Ilana Eli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pain prevention and management is one of the primary goals of dental care. Postoperative dental pain (PDP) following caries removal and performance of a restorative dental treatment is a common clinical phenomenon, often causing significant discomfort to dental patients. In the present study, a psychophysical non-invasive method, qualitative sensory testing (QualST), was used in an attempt to foretell PDP following dental restorative procedures. Forty-two dental patients un-derwent an intra-oral cold QualST four times: immediately prior to a restorative dental procedure and at a follow-up meeting 1–3 weeks later, on the treated and on the contralateral oral sides. The QualST measures included subjects’ evaluation of the magnitude of pain and cold sensations experienced (on visual analogue scales) and the duration of the cold sensation (in seconds). Additional measures included age, gender, level of dental anxiety, jaw treated, and type of dental restoration performed (Class I or Class V). Subjects’ PDP was assessed through the phone using numeric rating scales 24, 48, and 72 h postoperatively. The highest level of PDP experienced by subjects occurred 24 h postoperatively (ANOVA with repeated measures). Of the study variables, the QualST pain sensation (B = 0.645, p < 0.001), duration of the cold sensation (B = 0.042, p < 0.05), and an interaction between gender and dental anxiety (B = 0.136, p < 0.05) emerged as possible predictors of the highest PDP experienced by subjects (stepwise regression). The results suggest that subjects’ reaction to an intra-oral cold stimulation of the oral mucosa can serve as a potential tool to foretell postoperative dental pain following restorative dental procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8059
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • QST
  • QualST
  • dental
  • dental restorations
  • postoperative pain
  • qualitative sensory testing
  • quantitative sensory testing


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