The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to investigate the nature and degree of water loss at 21°C, 60% relative humidity (dehydration) and at 105°C (desiccation), and to relate these findings with (2) the strains produced in the dentine structure during dehydration and rehydration processes. In stage 1, digital moiré interferometry (DMI) was used to study the strain distribution pattern during dehydration and rehydration at 21°C. In stage 2, the nature and degree of water loss was determined using gravimetric analysis and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. DMI showed that dehydration produced strains in the dentine structure after an initial latent period. Gravimetric analysis showed that dentine exhibited an initial rapid water-loss phase followed by a slow and steady water-loss phase. Though the major portion of water loss occurred in the initial 2 h of dehydration (rapid water-loss phase), no obvious strains were produced during this period. Rehydration lead to the major reversal of dehydration-induced water loss and strains in dentine. Heating at 105°C resulted in further substantial loss of water from dentine. These experiments highlighted that the free water in the dentine surface, porosities and tubules are lost rapidly and constitute the major water lost when dehydrated at 21°C.