Experiencing teeth sensitivity after the placement of a dental crown is fairly common and usually not a cause for concern. This sensitivity can last for a few days to a couple of weeks as your mouth adjusts to the new crown. While mild sensitivity is normal, persistent or severe pain may signal a more serious underlying issue, such as an ill-fitting crown or an infection. In this article, we’ll explore the common symptoms and causes of sensitivity following a crown placement, helping you know what’s normal and when you need to worry.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity After Crowns? 

Tooth sensitivity following the placement of a dental crown can arise from several factors: 

  • Manipulation of Tooth Structure: The procedure to fit a crown involves reshaping the original tooth, which can irritate the nerve inside, leading to temporary sensitivity. This is especially likely if the crown is placed near the gum line or if a significant amount of tooth structure is removed. 
  • Material of the Crown: The type of material used for the crown can affect temperature sensitivity. Metal crowns, for example, are more likely to conduct heat and cold than porcelain or ceramic crowns. This can increase sensitivity when eating or drinking hot or cold items. 
  • Cement Reaction: The dental cement used to secure the crown to the tooth might occasionally cause a reaction, contributing to sensitivity. Although less common with modern materials, it’s still a potential factor. 
  • Fit of the Crown: If a crown does not fit perfectly, it can create small gaps between the tooth and the crown. These gaps can cause the crown to move slightly, irritating the tooth and allowing bacteria to infiltrate and potentially cause decay. Additionally, an improperly aligned crown might interfere with your bite, placing extra pressure on the tooth, and causing sensitivity and discomfort. 

How Long Does It Last? 

As mentioned earlier, tooth sensitivity after the placement of a crown typically lasts for a few days to a couple of weeks. This period allows your tooth and surrounding gum tissue to adjust to the new crown. Most people find that the sensitivity gradually decreases as the nerve inside the tooth settles and the surrounding tissues heal. However, if the sensitivity persists beyond a few weeks or worsens, it’s important to contact your dentist.

Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth 

Sensitive teeth can manifest through a range of symptoms, making everyday activities like eating and drinking uncomfortable experiences. The most common symptom is a sudden, sharp pain or discomfort in the teeth, particularly when exposed to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic stimuli. This pain is typically brief but can be intense. 

Additionally, some people may experience a lingering ache after the initial sharp pain has subsided, especially if the sensitivity is due to more significant dental issues. Sensitivity can also be felt when brushing or flossing, which can make oral hygiene routines uncomfortable. In more severe cases, the discomfort may persist without any obvious triggers, indicating a more chronic or underlying issue that needs dental assessment. These symptoms can vary in intensity from mild to severe and may come and go over time. Regular dental check-ups are important to diagnose the cause of tooth sensitivity and to prevent it from worsening.

Crown Sensitive to the Cold 

A crown may be sensitive to cold for several reasons. Primarily, the dental procedure to place the crown involves reshaping the tooth and removing some of the enamel, which exposes the dentin layer beneath. Dentin has tiny tubules that lead directly to the nerve center of the tooth. When cold substances reach these tubules, they can cause the fluid within them to move, triggering nerve irritation. 

How Common Is It After a Crown? 

Tooth sensitivity following the placement of a dental crown is a common side effect experienced by many patients. According to various studies, approximately 10% to 20% of patients report some degree of sensitivity after receiving a crown. While most cases of sensitivity are mild and resolve on their own within a few weeks, a small percentage of patients may experience more prolonged or severe symptoms, prompting further dental treatment.

How to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity After a Crown

  1. Use Desensitizing Toothpaste: Brushing with toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth can help alleviate pain. These toothpastes typically contain ingredients like potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride, which block pain signals from the tooth’s nerve. 
  2. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Continue to brush and floss regularly, but be gentle around the new crown to avoid aggravating any sensitivity. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoiding abrasive toothpaste can also help protect your teeth. 
  3. Avoid Extreme Temperatures in Food and Drink: Until your sensitivity decreases, try to avoid foods and beverages that are very hot or very cold. Consuming room-temperature items can prevent triggering tooth pain. 
  4. Use a Saltwater Rinse: Rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution can help soothe gum tissue and reduce pain. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swish it around your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out. 
  5. Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: If the discomfort is significant, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used according to the package directions to manage the pain. However, these should be used sparingly and not as a long-term solution. 
  6. Avoid Acidic Foods and Drinks: Acidic items like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and carbonated beverages can worsen dental sensitivity. Limiting your exposure to these can help reduce irritation. 
  7. Consult with Your Dentist: If your sensitivity persists or worsens, it’s important to revisit your dentist. They can check if the crown needs adjustment or if there are other underlying issues contributing to the sensitivity. 

Best Toothpaste For Sensitive Teeth 

For sensitive teeth, toothpastes specifically formulated to minimize tooth sensitivity can be very effective. Some popular and highly recommended brands include: 

  • Sensodyne: Known for its wide range of options tailored for sensitive teeth, Sensodyne is often recommended by dentists. Its formulations work to soothe the nerve inside the tooth and build long-lasting protection against sensitivity. 
  • Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief: This toothpaste uses an arginine-based formula, which is effective in sealing the channels that lead to sensitive tooth nerves, offering instant and lasting relief. 
  • Crest Sensitivity: This brand also offers toothpastes that are specifically formulated to help protect sensitive teeth and provide relief from discomfort. 
  • Tom’s of Maine Rapid Relief Sensitive: Made with natural ingredients, this toothpaste uses a formula that quickly blocks pathways to sensitive dental nerves. 

When Should You Contact a Periodontist About It? 

If you experience severe, persistent pain, increased sensitivity that does not improve, or signs of infection such as swelling, redness, or discharge, these could be indicators of more serious issues that require professional attention. 

At Utah Periodontal Specialists, we are adept at recognizing when sensitivity indicates a need for further intervention. For any concerns regarding your periodontal health, don’t hesitate to contact our offices in South Jordan or Salt Lake City. We are here to assist with all your periodontal needs.