A dental crown can preserve a damaged tooth while also improving your smile, but it’s not uncommon to have sensitive teeth after crowns are placed. The sensitivity is only temporary in most cases, but there are simple ways you can reduce the discomfort.
Is It Painful to Have a Crown Put on Your Tooth?
The placement of dental crowns is a simple procedure that’s virtually painless. Before the tooth is prepared, the area is first numbed with a local anesthetic, and sedation dentistry is available for patients who prefer an added level of comfort. The permanent crown is placed during a separate appointment, and a local or general anesthesia is used to minimize the discomfort.
For most patients, the discomfort comes not during the crown placement but after the appointment when the anesthesia wears off. Tooth sensitivity is the most common form of discomfort to arise after the procedure.
What Causes Sensitive Teeth After Crowns?
The sensitivity you experience after a crown procedure is caused primarily by the reduction of enamel on the tooth. Each tooth has several protective layers that surround the pulp, the innermost layer that contains the nerves and blood vessels. If you’ve ever cracked or chipped a tooth, you understand what it feels like when the enamel is compromised—the nerves are less protected and your tooth is more sensitive to hot, cold, and pressure.
When you’re treated for a crown, the dentist removes a thin layer of outer enamel to make room for the restoration. As a result, there is less insulation protecting the inner layers like the dentin and pulp.
The good news is that the dental crown ultimately provides the same insulation that you would get from the natural enamel, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It can take a few days for your tooth to adjust.
What Can Trigger Sensitive Teeth After Crowns?
The amount or type of discomfort you experience when receiving a crown will depend on several factors. For instance, the closer to the nerve your dentist has to drill (either to remove enamel or treat tooth decay), the more sensitivity you’re likely to experience in the days following your procedure.
In addition, you’ll need to be aware of the following contributing factors:
Temperature sensitivity: The reduction in enamel—and the possibility of slight gum recession—can temporarily render your teeth sensitive to hot and cold drinks. If this is a persistent problem, try keeping your beverages closer to room temperature for a few days
Pressure sensitivity: Your teeth are also likely to be pressure-sensitive for a few days. To minimize the effects, focus on softer foods while your tooth is recovering from the procedure.
Grinding teeth: Also be careful about clenching or grinding your teeth, as this can trigger sensitivity and discomfort as well. If you have a condition known as bruxism (where you persistently clench or grind your teeth, often without being aware of it), consider investing in a mouth guard.
The sensitivity caused by temperature and pressure should go away on its own in a few days. However, there are some more serious signs to watch out for as well:
Allergic reactions: If your crown contains metal, there is a small possibility that you may experience an allergic reaction. Some labs will use alloys like nickel, beryllium, and chromium to construct the crown. If you have an allergic reaction, you may notice symptoms like persistent dry mouth and swollen, itching cheeks.
Tooth infection: In rare cases, a bacterial infection may occur beneath the crown. This requires immediate treatment, as it can lead to a root canal infection over time.
An insufficient bond: If the crown isn’t placed properly, the bonding cement can leak out, causing the crown to shift or come loose. The problem occurs when the cement doesn’t dry properly, and it can be a significant source of pain.
An improperly sized crown: Pain and discomfort can occur if the crown fails to match the shape and size of the original tooth, or if the bite isn’t properly aligned. This problem is easy to distinguish from normal tooth sensitivity because the entire placement will feel unnatural.
If you notice any of these more serious warning signs, visit your dentist immediately.
How Long Will Teeth Be Sensitive After Crowns?
Every patient has a different experience when it comes to post-crown tooth sensitivity, but the issue should resolve itself within about two weeks. While some patients experience a brief period of temperature or pressure sensitivity, others experience no discomfort at all.
Try to determine the triggers that affect your tooth sensitivity, and avoid those triggers for a few days. If you’re still experiencing pain and discomfort after two weeks, speak to your dentist right away. There may be a more serious underlying issue.
How to Reduce Sensitivity After a Dental Crown
If you experience tooth sensitivity after receiving a crown, heed the following tips to minimize your discomfort:
Avoid excessively hot and cold drinks as well as cold foods like ice cream until the sensitivity subsides.
Avoid spicy foods for a few days, as spices may also trigger tooth sensitivity.
Try drinking through a straw to reduce contact with the teeth.
Brush your teeth using a toothpaste designed for tooth sensitivity.
Take an over-the-counter pain medication like aspirin or ibuprofen. Use as directed.
Visit your dentist if you experience excessive or persistent pain.
Remember, the discomfort—if there is any—is only temporary. Just hang in there, and soon you’ll be enjoying the full benefits of a quality dental crown with none of the downsides.