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Do Veneers Make Your Teeth Sensitive?

Asian patient receiving a dental exam in clinic. Dentist wearing white gloves and using tools to examine teeth, dentistry and teeth healthcare concepts.

Many aspire to have a brighter, more uniform smile, often considering various dental treatments to enhance their appearance and oral health. One such option is the placement of veneers, a popular solution among cosmetic dentistry treatments to fix damaged teeth and improve aesthetics. However, a common question arises: Do veneers make your teeth sensitive? 

This article sheds light on the concerns regarding veneers and tooth sensitivity, providing insights and reassurance to those considering this cosmetic treatment. 

Read on to ensure a comfortable and informed veneer experience!

Key Takeaway: 

Dental veneers are a long-term option for restoring damaged or discoloured teeth, but some may experience tooth sensitivity post-treatment. It is generally temporary or minor discomfort and can be effectively managed. Simple strategies can minimise discomfort and ensure a smooth transition to your new smile, including maintaining a proper oral routine, using toothpaste for sensitive teeth, avoiding acidic foods and drinks, and having regular dental check-ups.

Understanding Veneers

A dental veneer, sometimes called a porcelain veneer, is a thin, custom-made shell or protective cover that your dentist attaches over your tooth to restore its colour, shape, size, and overall appearance. A veneer is designed to be bonded onto your tooth surface, covering it to enhance aesthetics and provide optimal comfort.

You may need a veneer for several reasons, including:

  • Covering stained or discoloured teeth
  • Restoring broken, chipped or cracked teeth
  • Aligning slightly crooked teeth
  • Filling in small gaps between teeth
  • Altering misshapen teeth

Apart from the reasons described above, veneers have numerous benefits. These include:

  • Veneers are strong and durable.
  • Require little to no tooth enamel removal.
  • It’s safe as they are made to be compatible with your gums.
  • The process is painless when carried out by a skilled cosmetic dentist.
  • Quick procedure – takes one or two visits at the most.
  • Veneers can be customised as needed with your natural teeth.
  • Increase confidence in your smile.
  • Low maintenance – minimal effort is needed to maintain veneers.

Veneers can be made from different materials, including composite resin, ceramic or porcelain. You and your dentist usually select a material or type based on the colour of your tooth, the tooth’s location, and the cost of the material. They offer aesthetic benefits, with ceramic/porcelain veneers boasting exceptional durability and stain resistance.

What is the process of getting veneers? Placing veneers involves a series of steps meticulously performed by a dentist to ensure a perfect fit and a natural look. Initially, your dentist will assess the overall health of your teeth and mouth and discuss your aesthetic goals. Following this, a small amount of enamel from the front surface of your teeth may be removed to make room for the veneers. This process is crucial for the veneers to fit seamlessly without making your teeth look or feel bulky. 

An impression of your teeth is then taken and sent to a dental laboratory, where your custom veneers will be crafted. While waiting for your new veneers, temporary veneers will be applied over your teeth to protect them. Once your veneers are ready, your dentist will check their fit and colour, making any necessary adjustments. 

Close-up of dental procedure. Dentist in white gloves using UV light to cure dental treatment on woman's teeth.

The final step involves bonding the permanent veneers to your teeth’s surface using a special dental cement, which is then hardened with a curing light for a secure bond. It’s important to note that most patients may experience some discomfort after getting veneers. This is typically temporary and will be discussed in the following section, offering insights into its management and resolution.

Can Veneers Cause Tooth Sensitivity?

Close-up portrait of an Asian woman with sensitive teeth holding yellow ice cream on white background.

Tooth sensitivity is a sharp sensation or discomfort that you feel in your teeth when exposed to hot and cold, sweet or acidic foods and drinks. It can result from various other factors, including inflammation of the pulp, exposed dentine, receding gums, cracked teeth, bruxism, dental procedures, and even ageing.

Getting dental veneers can contribute to tooth sensitivity, but this is a common and manageable side effect.As discussed, a thin layer of the enamel is removed during the tooth preparation phase to make space for the veneer. This removal, although essential, exposes the dentine layer. Dentine is the second layer beneath the enamel on the outside of your teeth. Normally, the hard enamel layer protects the dentine and the nerves inside. However, enamel can become thinner than its normal thickness due to slight shaving during the procedure.

Cause and mechanism of sensitive teeth vector illustration.

Given that the enamel acts as the primary defence against external stimuli (refer to factors outside the tooth structure that can trigger sensitivity or discomfort), its reduction means the dentinal tubules are more susceptible to triggering sensitivity. Unlike enamel, dentine contains tiny tubes filled with fluid. When hot or cold reaches these tubes, the fluid moves, stimulating nerves in the inner tooth pulp, leading to that zap of pain.

Understanding the relationship between enamel erosion, dentine exposure, and the enamel removal procedure can help patients comprehend why they might experience sensitivity after getting veneers. This way, they can better do careful planning when getting veneers, manage their dental health, and seek professional advice when necessary. 

How Often Does Sensitivity Occur?

Tooth sensitivity is a widespread complaint, affecting more than half of the population. Sensitive teeth may occur at any age. This condition can manifest as a temporary inconvenience or a persistent discomfort, significantly impacting an individual’s quality of life. A study conducted in Singapore revealed that 64 per cent of the population suffers from sensitive teeth. This high percentage shows the commonality of the issue, illustrating that tooth sensitivity is not an isolated or rare dental problem.

Typically, tooth sensitivity can occur when you consume hot, cold, sweet or sour drinks and foods or even by breathing cold air. When it comes to veneers, patients may experience temporary tooth sensitivity due to modifying the natural tooth structure during the procedure. Understanding that sensitivity is a prevalent concern can help patients feel less isolated in their experiences and more empowered to seek effective management strategies.

Why Does Sensitivity Happen?

As mentioned earlier, removing enamel during veneer placement can expose the underlying dentine. This dentine contains microscopic tubules that directly connect to your tooth nerve. When stimulated by hot, cold, or other irritants, these tubules transmit signals to the nerve, causing a feeling of sensitivity.

The veneer placement process can also lead to temporary dental pulp inflammation, causing sensitivity. In some cases, sensitivity could be a signal of underlying tooth decay, which might have been unnoticed before the veneer procedure.

How Long Does Sensitivity Last?

The good news is that veneer-related tooth sensitivity is typically temporary. In most cases, the discomfort subsides within a few days to a week as your mouth adjusts to the veneers. However, it’s important to remember that the timeline for teeth sensitivity can vary from person to person.

Here’s a general timeframe to give you an idea:

👉Day 1-3

  • Heightened sensitivity 
  • Increased temperature sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks. Discomfort might be noticeable during brushing, flossing, or drinking hot drinks and eating frozen foods like ice cream.

👉Day 4-7

  • Medium sensitivity
  • Sensitivity gradually subsides. Discomfort should be minimal and only triggered by extreme temperatures or irritants.

👉Week 2+

  • Low sensitivity (unnoticeable)
  • Sensitivity returns to normal levels by this point. Enjoy your new smile!

It is best to maintain good oral hygiene to minimise sensitivity. However, if sensitivity persists or worsens, it is recommended to see your dentist as it may require professional treatment.

Having explored the causes and implications for sensitivity after getting veneers, let’s shift our focus towards preventive methods. Managing tooth sensitivity effectively can enhance your overall comfort and ensure the longevity of your veneers.

How to Manage Sensitivity after Veneers

Oral care kit in a flat lay composition on yellow background.

Teeth sensitivity can be a discomforting experience, especially after undergoing veneer treatment. However, you can take several practical tips to help minimise sensitivity:

  1. Follow post-procedure instructions: Adhering to your dentist’s aftercare recommendations is important for ensuring the longevity of your veneers and minimising sensitivity. These care instructions may include maintaining oral health and using prescribed pain medications as directed.
  2. Be gentle with dental care: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently to avoid further irritation of sensitive areas. Aim for gentle circular motions rather than aggressive brushing strokes.
  3. Use sensitivity mouthwash: Regular use can help fortify tooth enamel, reducing sensitivity.
  4. Use toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth: Desensitising toothpaste has formulations that help block discomfort from reaching the tooth’s nerve.
  5. Avoid acidic and hard foods and drinks: These can exacerbate tooth sensitivity and potentially damage your veneers.
  6. Wear a night guard device: If you grind your teeth at night, using a night guard can help prevent veneer damage and reduce sensitivity.
  7. Avoid extreme temperatures: Opt for lukewarm beverages and avoid very hot or cold foods for the first few days after veneer placement, as these can trigger sensitivity.
  8. Try a saltwater rinse: Rinsing with warm salt water can reduce inflammation and soothe sensitive gums and teeth.
  9. Follow-up appointments: Regular check-ups allow your dentist to monitor your progress and address any ongoing sensitivity issues.

When to See Your Dentist

While minor tooth sensitivity from a veneer is normal, there are specific circumstances under which you should promptly see your dentist. There are signs that might indicate a need for further evaluation by your dentist.

Signs to Watch For:

Persistent sensitivity, lasting beyond the initial few weeks after your veneers have been placed, could indicate an issue with damaged enamel, the bond between the veneer and your tooth or even an unforeseen reaction your tooth has to the materials used. 

Severe discomfort or sharp tooth pain should not be ignored, especially when consuming hot and cold foods and beverages. If you experience any changes in bite or discomfort when chewing, this might suggest that the veneers cause sensitivity and have been improperly fitted. 

Additionally, signs of gum inflammation around the veneer indicate the need for a dental assessment. These symptoms could lead to complications such as an infection or decay under or around the veneer, requiring special dental attention. 

It’s imperative to have these concerns evaluated swiftly to prevent further dental issues. Your dentist can offer corrective measures, which may include adjustments to the veneers, a revision of the bonding process, or, in some cases, the replacement of a veneer.

Conclusion

In conclusion, veneers are a great option for those wishing to enhance their smile, and the potential for post-procedure sensitivity should not overshadow the positive changes they can bring. By understanding what causes sensitivity, managing it effectively, and knowing when to seek help, you can ensure your veneer experience is as comfortable as possible.

Remember, a smile makeover with veneers aims to improve your quality of life, and a brief period of sensitivity is a small investment for the long-term benefits. If you’re considering this cosmetic enhancement, take the next step towards a more confident smile by discussing veneers with your dentist.

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