Permanent crown sensitive to hot and cold? Here's why

Our clinicians explain why your permanent and temporary crowns might be feeling sensitive.

Whether you just got your first crown (welcome to the club), or you've had a permanent crown for decades, this is written for you. Sensitivity and discomfort are common side effects with temporary crowns and when a new permanent crown is seated (placed in your mouth). But sensitivity can start years after you get your crown. We’ll unpack what could be behind the sensitivity, and when to contact your dentist.

You may not wear a crown on your head (if you do, keep rocking it), but if you have a crown on one or more of your teeth, you're in good company. Each year there are about 3 million crowns placed in American's mouths. Crowns protect damaged teeth and make implants functional, and with more than 60% of Americans missing one or more teeth it's no wonder there are crowns galore.

Even though your crown isn't a normal tooth, it still requires love and care in your hygiene routine. "It's a common misconception that you don't need to take care of your crowns because they aren't 'real,'" shares Iman Zayed, RDH. "But it's important to take care of those crowns just as much as with your real teeth. If not cleaned properly, biofilm can still build up on the crown which can lead to issues like bad breath, plaque, and gum recession." And if you don’t take care of your crowned tooth you run the risk of getting a cavity below the crown and needing to spend the time (and money) restoring it. 

Okay, you’ve got the hygiene down. So what's going on if you experience sensitivity with your crown? 

Temporary crowns and sensitivity

If you need to get a crown, most likely you’ll get a temporary crown before your permanent crown is seated. Your dentist takes an impression of your tooth and surrounding area, sends the impression to a lab, and that lab needs time to craft your crown. While you wait, your dentist will place a temporary crown - this temp comes with plenty of benefits:

  • Conceals the tooth structure prepared for the crown 
  • Protects the prepared tooth and surrounding tissue
  • Serves as a placeholder so your other teeth don't shift & keeps your gum contour in-tact to fit your new crown and prevent gum disease issues

After your temporary crown is cemented, your tooth and gums might feel sensitive. That’s because the anesthetic is wearing off and you'll start to feel all the feels, including soreness and sensitivity.

Since temporary crowns don't fit as perfectly as a permanent crown, it might leave some of your dentin (the inner-layer of your tooth) slightly exposed. Because the dentin is porous and stimulates the inner-nerves, it is much more sensitive when exposed to food, drink, and air. 

Your sensitivity should wear off once your permanent crown is placed. 

Cold sensitivity after a crown is put in? Here's what's going on.

Once that permanent crown goes in and the anesthesia wears off, you might feel sore and experience sensitivity to cold or hot foods and beverages. The feeling should subside as your mouth recovers and you get used to the crown.

“Getting a crown is actually an intense process for your mouth,” explains Dr. Kevin Walker, DDS. “Not only did your dentist file down your tooth, but your gums were stretched to properly place the crown below the gum line. So it is common to experience some discomfort in the days after you get your crown.”

However, that feeling of tenderness or sensitivity increases in the weeks after, or if there is significant pain coming from your tooth, you should let your dentist know ASAP. Chances are something is not quite right, but your dentist will be able to address it quickly and effectively.

Crown on tooth hurt years later?

The only thing constant is change, and the same goes with your permanent crowns. Years after getting a crown, you might suddenly start to experience pain when biting, or sensitivity to hot or cold beverages. Even though your crown is built to last, the crown, tooth, and surrounding tissues can be affected. 

Here are a few reasons why you might experience  pain with a crown you’ve had for years:

  • Tooth decay 
  • Tooth infection
  • Gum inflammation
  • Fractured tooth or crown
  • Teeth grinding

If you experience sensitivity in your tooth with a crown, it's usually a sign that some of your dentin is exposed. That could mean a crack in the crown, be a sign of gum recession, or potentially an issue with the tooth below the crown.

When to contact your dentist

If you feel throbbing or sharp pain in your crown that is persistent, contact your dentist. The pain won't go away on its own because it's coming from something pretty serious like: 

  • A traumatized nerve
  • Tooth infection 
  • Teeth grinding (this can compromise the tooth, crown, and surrounding tissues)
  • Damaged crown

Your dentist can determine what's the cause of the pain through an examination and x-ray, and work with you to develop the right strategy to address the issue.

If you're a Wally member, call or text your Care Team to chat about what you're experiencing. We can help you get a dentist appointment if you don't have a dentist, and for members located near one of our Wally studios we'll get you in for an exam, included in your membership. Not a member? Join our waitlist for an invite to become a member and get unlimited cleanings and whitenings.

Want to learn more about tooth sensitivity? Check out "Tooth sensitivity: your ultimate guide" for everything you need to know from what causes sensitivity, and what you can do about it.

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