How long sensitive teeth lasts can be as short as a few days or as long as a few months but it all depends on what’s causing the sensitivity. The vast majority of teeth sensitivity is temporary and will go away as soon as you resolve the root cause.
Do you know what is causing your teeth to be sensitive?
If you do, you’ll have an idea of how long the discomfort will last and also what you need to do to make it go away permanently.
Duration of Teeth Sensitivity
Teeth sensitivity can be short lasting or it can last indefinitely but it depends on what the cause of it is. If it’s something that will self-resolve on its own, your sensitive teeth should subside in due time.
However, if it is a type of oral condition that will not go away without treatment, the symptoms will persist until you finally get treatment.
Below is a table with common tooth conditions that may cause sensitivity and approximately how long it can last.
|After fillings||1-2 weeks|
|After cleaning||1-2 days|
|Deep cleaning||1-3 days|
|Root canal||1 day|
|Tooth decay||Until resolution|
|Cracked tooth||Until resolution|
|Tooth nerve pain||Until resolution|
|Dental abscess||Until resolution|
What the teeth can be sensitive to:
- Cold and hot.
- While eating sweet foods.
- Acidic foods.
Ultimately, if you wish to know when your tooth sensitivity will dissipate, you need to know what is causing it in the first place.
Sensitive teeth causes
When teeth become sensitive, it is a sign that something has gone awry with your teeth, gums, or mouth. You may or may not know what it is but you should definitely go find out. Perhaps a dental check up is in order especially if your last one was more than 6 months ago.
List of potential causes:
- Gum recession. Receding gums will expose the sensitive root surface.
- Brushing aggressively. Brushing with a hard toothbrush or with a heavy hand can lead to gum damage or recession.
- Gum disease. Untreated gingivitis will lead to periodontitis, which may cause bone loss and gum loss.
- Pregnancy. Teeth often become more sensitive during pregnancy due to elevated hormones. It’s still not a sign of early pregnancy though.
- Cracked teeth. If you chip or break away the enamel, it can leave the sensitive dentin layer exposed. The purpose of the enamel is to protect the dentin from stimuli.
- Teeth grinding. Grinding or clenching your teeth will eventually wear away the enamel thus exposing the dentin and tooth nerves.
- Teeth whitening products. A common side effect of whitening your teeth is tooth sensitivity. This is to be expected if you’re using a high peroxide concentration or if you whiten for an extended period of time.
- Acidic foods. Eating too much acidic foods such as coffee, wine, sodas, citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles and tea, can erode the enamel layer.
- Recent dental procedures. If you’ve had dental work done recently, it may leave your teeth sensitive at least temporarily.
- Pulpitis. When the tooth nerve becomes inflamed or infected.
- Missing filling. Losing a tooth filling will leave the dentin completely exposed.
As you can see, sensitivity is a symptom of many oral conditions. It is usually the first sign of something having gone wrong with your teeth but if you leave it untreated it may become worse and progress to pain.
In other words it can become a toothache if you don’t get it treated.
How to get rid of sensitivity
The most effective way to eliminate teeth sensitivity is with professional dental treatment but at home management can help reduce the discomfort.
Professional ways to treat it
These are all procedures which your dentist uses to help alleviate your discomfort.
- Fluoride varnish. The fluoride creates a layer of calcium fluoride over your teeth which helps to block discomfort for a couple of months.
- Dental bonding. Composite bonding can help cover up exposed dentin and root.
- Gum graft. Receded gums can be grown back with a soft tissue graft.
- Veneers. A thin piece of porcelain laminate is bonded over the exposed parts.
- Crowns. An extremely sensitive tooth may require a full coverage tooth cap.
- Root canal. The most extreme option is to permanently remove the tooth nerve. Afterwards the tooth will be dead and will never feel any sensations ever again.
At home care
These are tips that you can use at home to help manage sensitive teeth. Sometimes it is enough to completely get rid of it but other times it’ll at least help reduce it.
- Brush gently with a soft bristled brush. Gentle brushing will help prevent gum damage.
- Use sensitive toothpaste. Make sure it has stannous fluoride, potassium nitrate, or hydroxyapatite as the desensitizing agents. These help reduce the symptoms.
- Reduce consumption of acidic foods. All of these foods trigger sensitivity or make it worse. You’ll be better off not eating too much of them if they make it worse.
- Maintain good oral hygiene. Brushing with sensitive toothpaste after every meal is ideal if you’re able to do it. If you can’t brush after eating, at least rinse with mouthwash or even plain water for at least 60 seconds. This will wash away the acids from the sensitive parts of your teeth.
- Wear night guard. Those who grind or clench will benefit from a night guard which helps protect the enamel from further wear.
Additional tip: A lot of people don’t know that sensitive toothpaste works based on contact time. If it’s not desensitizing your teeth as you’d like, you can simply leave the toothpaste on the sensitive spots for a longer period of time (10-15 minutes). That will help maximize the desensitization.
Teeth sensitivity is often temporary and not permanent because it will go away once you treat the root cause. Therefore it will last for as long as you are finally ready to take action to get rid of it once and for all in your life.
Nonetheless, there are times where it may go away on its own within a few days or weeks. If that’s you then you may be lucky but if not you’ll need to go see your dentist!