The hydrodynamic theory of dentine hypersensitivity proposes that external stimuli cause dentinal fluid movement within dentinal tubules thereby triggering mechanosensitive nerves and eliciting a pain response. The aim of this study was to employ X-ray microtomography (XMT) to monitor diffusion of caesium acetate through dentine to investigate the extent to which transport occurs within the primary tubules compared to that through branched microtubules believed to run perpendicular to the direction of the primary dentinal tubules. 2.0-mm thick coronal dentine disks masked to leave half of the upper surface exposed were imaged by XMT, initially in water, which was then replaced with an aqueous solution of 0.50 mol l(-1) caesium acetate. Further XMT images were acquired after 1 and 6 days immersion. The XMT images were used to measure the change in the X-ray linear attenuation coefficient resulting from caesium acetate ingress into dentine. There was clearly considerable ingress of caesium acetate into the dentine lying below the exposed surface, but considerably less beneath the sealed surface, suggesting that diffusive transport occurs predominantly in the direction of the primary dentinal tubules, with no significant lateral transport. Primary tubules are clearly the dominant transmission route for triggering the mechanosensitive nerves present at the dentine-pulp interface, and for delivery of nerve desensitising agents.