Why Has Your Veneer-Covered Tooth Suddenly Become Sensitive?

18 October 2022
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


Tooth veneers are an ingenious solution for a variety of dental problems. Maybe the tooth beneath was misshapen, severely chipped, or permanently discolored. Once the veneer itself (a tooth-shaped and colored porcelain shell) was bonded onto the tooth, it looked flawless, with its imperfection forever concealed. While the tooth continues to look great, it's starting to not feel so great. Why is your tooth starting to feel so sensitive?

Into the Tooth's Nerve

Elevated sensitivity in any tooth can be a cause for concern. It's often the first warning sign of some form of deterioration in the tooth, and this is also true when the tooth is covered with a veneer. A tooth is coated in tough dental enamel, which protects the part of the tooth (called dentin) beneath. At the center of each tooth is the pulp chamber, which is where the tooth's nerve is found. The nerve is the only part of the tooth capable of registering feeling, and so if the tooth has suddenly become sensitive, it's a sign that its nerve is being stimulated.

Protective Enamel

When a tooth is fitted with veneer, some of its protective dental enamel must be removed. Even though the veneer is incredibly thin, if it was bonded onto an unprepared tooth, the subsequent width of the tooth would be excessive, making the tooth uncomfortable, and even interfering with your bite and speech. This is why enamel shaving is a prerequisite for veneers. Your dentist removed an ultra-thin layer of veneer, and then etched the tooth's surface to encourage it to adhere to the veneer. 

A Triggered Nerve

The removal of this enamel removed part of the tooth's protective coating. Although the underlying dentin can't feel anything per se, it actually has myriad microscopic passages leading from its surface to the nerve at its center. If dentin is exposed, it's possible for the nerve to register irritation from the temperature of foods and drinks, and even to be exposed to bacteria contaminants. In short, the tooth becomes sensitive. But why are you feeling this when the tooth is protected with a veneer?

Minuscule Gaps

If the veneer's bonding deteriorates in any way, minuscule gaps (so small as to be invisible to the naked eye) can appear between the tooth and its veneer. These gaps expose the underlying dentin to external stimuli, and make the tooth more sensitive. Without intervention, the veneer's bonding may continue to weaken until it detaches from the tooth—with the tooth's sensitivity worsening.

All you need to do is see your dentist. The veneer will be removed and then re-bonded, with the underlying tooth carefully examined to see if it needs any additional preparation work—which may have been the reason for the loose bonding. It's not a major fix, but it will need to be attended to if you want to bring an end to the annoying sensitivity in your tooth. For more information on tooth veneers, contact a professional near you.