Ask Your Dentist: Do Porcelain Veneers Cause Sensitive Teeth?

Dentist Articles

Porcelain veneers are an increasingly popular solution for people with problem teeth. Porcelain veneers can disguise worn, chipped, stained or misaligned teeth and, once fitted, will permanently improve your smile, but some people with porcelain veneers complain that the process leads to increased tooth sensitivity. Find out why a veneer could cause this problem, and learn more about the steps you should take to deal with the issue.

How dentists apply the veneers

Porcelain veneers are popular with dentists and patients alike because they more closely resemble natural teeth. Even after several years, a porcelain veneer will not normally succumb to stains, so patients continue to enjoy a gleaming, natural smile.

A porcelain veneer is wafer thin, and your dentist designs and makes each item specifically for your tooth. As part of the process, the dentist must bond the veneer to your original tooth, but it's vital that the veneer doesn't stick out further than your teeth. As such, the dentist will shave off a sliver off the tooth enamel that is no thicker than the veneer. For this step, your dentist will probably only remove around 1/2mm of enamel before he or she fixes the veneer.

Causes of short-term sensitivity with veneers

When the dentist shaves off the enamel, he or she may slightly expose the dentin inside the tooth. This generally leads to increased tooth sensitivity. It then takes around 1 to 2 weeks for the new permanent veneer to arrive. During this period, your dentist may place a temporary veneer to protect the tooth, especially if you already experienced some sensitivity. Nonetheless, even with the temporary veneer, most people experience heightened sensitivity until the dentist fits the permanent veneer.

A dentist may also sometimes need to remove slightly more enamel to allow room for the veneer. If this occurs, the dentist may expose more of the dentin, increasing tooth sensitivity. In these situations, it may take several weeks or months for the sensitivity to subside.

The bonding chemicals the dentist uses are slightly acidic. For some patients, these chemicals can temporarily make the nerve to the tooth more sensitive, although this problem will normally ease after two or three weeks.

More serious sensitivity problems

Problems with sensitive teeth normally go away a short time after a dentist fits a veneer, but more serious issues can arise.

As part of the preparation process, a dentist may expose the nerve that runs through the tooth. While this will cause some immediate sensitivity, you can also get an infection in the exposed nerve. In this case, the patient will experience heightened sensitivity, which will not go away without further dental treatment.

While your dentist will carefully measure the amount of enamel to remove, there is a risk that the veneer will still protrude further than your original tooth. Where this occurs, the veneer can interfere with the patient's natural bite. In this case, he or she may also experience increased sensitivity, and the dentist may need to adjust the veneer to make the issue go away.

Alternatives to porcelain veneers

When you see your dentist, he or she may recommend an alternative to porcelain veneers, particularly if it looks as though they will need to remove a lot of enamel. In these cases, your dentist may recommend a composite resin veneer.

With this type of veneer, the dentist normally has to remove less enamel, and he or she can also repair or replace the veneer if necessary. Composite resin veneers don't generally last as long as porcelain veneers, but they're a useful option to consider for patients who may suffer from heightened sensitivity.

How porcelain veneers can help sensitivity

It's important to note that many dentists will recommend porcelain veneers in patients whose teeth are already highly sensitive. For example, people who suffer with a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) often regurgitate their stomach acid. Excess acid in patients' mouths can cause tooth erosion, leading to problems with sensitive teeth.

For these (and other) patients, veneers can help ease the problem of sensitive teeth because the new porcelain layer acts as a barrier between the exposed tooth and substances that can cause sensitivity. If you suffer with highly sensitive teeth, you should talk to your dentist to find out if porcelain veneers could help you cope with the problem.

Porcelain veneers can sometimes cause temporary tooth sensitivity, but this problem will normally ease within a few days or weeks. More serious problems are rare, but you should talk to your dentist if you are concerned about the risk of heightened tooth sensitivity. If your dentist thinks that veneers might not be a good option for you, they may recommend other options for improving your smile, like dental implants, instead.


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