Tooth Talk: Tooth problem with a capital T?

Q: I just had a cap put on and my tooth is real sensitive. How long is this supposed to last?

A: The answer depends on a lot of things. There are many factors that can cause the pain. Are your teeth sensitive to hot, cold, sweets, touch, pressure or biting? Was the tooth sensitive before the crown was done?

Natural tooth structure insulates the sensitive nerve tissue located in the center of the tooth. If there was a large cavity and much of the tooth had to be removed there is no “insulation” over the nerve. This sensitivity could take up to six months to go away. If it does not go away or seems to be getting worse you may need a root canal.

I know, I know you don’t want to hear that but with today’s technology root canals are much easier and quicker than they were in the past.

If the soreness is only to biting, it may be that your bite was a little different when you were numb. In that case, a quick visit to your dentist for a slight adjustment is all that’s needed. If this is the problem the sensitivity to biting should go away within a week of having the bite adjusted. You should check with your dentist to see if there was a note about the cavity or crack being close to the nerve.

In some cases, if there is extensive decay the nerve may become inflamed or may have already been inflamed because of the cavity. If the inflammation is too great or too prolonged the nerve inside of the tooth will die. If that happens you will need a root canal and you do not want to wait too long or the tooth will abscess and become very painful.

Your dentist should be able to ascertain the problem for you. One last possibility is that you may have a bite problem which caused the tooth to become inflamed or cracked.

This means that your teeth do not fit together properly. If there is a bite problem and it is not addressed the tooth can become even more symptomatic and never heal up. Addressing and treating the bite problem should allow the tooth to heal and resolve the sensitivity.

Preparing a tooth for a crown requires a lot of work. You can simply be having an inflammatory response to that work. If this is the case it will go away in a matter of a few weeks. This process can be sped up by over the counter anti-inflammatories if you can.


Questions can be sent to Fred Eck, D.D.S. at Marco Dental Care, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 305, Marco Island, or call 389-9400. Web site: He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Detroit Mercy and is licensed by the Florida State Board of Dentistry.

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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