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Dentistry/question about crown sensitivity


Hello. I am having a problem that I wondering if it is safe to wait a few days to see what happens (as today as Saturday) or if it is something that I need to take care of immediately. I had a crown placed on a tooth two months ago. This molar did not have a root canal. It did not have any sensitivity. It just had a very old large silver filling from when I was a kid that my dentist felt really needed to be replaced with a crown. (I am now 42.) Everything was fine (no pain or sensitivity) for the two months since I got this crown. About a week ago I got something (probably food of some kind) stuck between the crowned tooth and the molar next to it, and I had to do a lot of digging to get it out and finally got it out with floss and a waterpik. Anyway, I do not know if this is related to that incident or is just a coincidence in timing, but since a day or two after that I have had a lot of sensitivity (sometimes very painful) in the crowned tooth to cold beverages. The sensitivity lingers and lasts a few minutes afterward.It is also sensitive to hot beverages, but it is much worse with cold. I was trying to give it time thinking maybe I just inflamed something but it is getting worse this weekend.(The sensitivity has been going on about 4 days now I estimate.) Do you think this means I will need a root canal or that it might be something minor or even something that will calm down and go away on its own? Is it OK to wait or could this turn into an abscess?

Thank you so much in advance for any advice you can share with me. I am very nervous!! (And a very nervous dental patient in general.)

Hi Michelle,

I'm sorry you are going through all this. When you have a tooth that is sensitive to hot and cold, the good news is that the nerve and blood supply, the pulp, is still alive. The bad news is that the pulp is irritated for some reason. The fact that you had to do a lot of "digging" could be the reason for your sensitivity or it could be that you are in the early stages of the pulp dying which usually starts with an increase to temperature. The only way to really know the difference is to give it a little time. It sounds to me, since the sensitivity has gotten worse this weekend, that are will probably need a root canal to finally get comfortable. I would suggest that you call your dentist tomorrow morning, get in for an evaluation ASAP, and go from there. You certainly don't want to live with increasing sensitivity.

Hope this helps. If you want information about root canals, I would refer you to our national website There is lots of info there for patients and it may help your nervousness. You might also ask your dentist for a referral to an endodontist if, in fact, you need a root canal. We specialize in doing root canals and make it pretty darn easy for nervous patients :-).

Best regards,

Gary Backlund DMD, MSD


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Gary Backlund, DMD, MSD


I am an Endodontist ( root canal specialist ) and can answer questions about root canals and their treatment. I cannot diagnose or treat online, but can answer general questions. I have been a specialist for 25 years and am Past President of the Washington State Association of Endodontists.


25 years practicing as a specialist

American Association of Endodonists, Past President Washington State Association of Endodontists.

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