Teeth Sensitive at the Gumline? What’s Causing It and How It’s Treated

For about 3 months, I’ve had periodic tooth sensitivity at the gumline on my top right front tooth and the one to the right of it. The teeth aren’t sensitive to heat or cold, but if I run my fingernail or a toothpick along the gums, it’s sensitive. Flossing or brushing my teeth doesn’t hurt. The sensitivity has increased over the past 3 weeks. The only thing different is that I’ve started whitening my teeth at home. The sensitivity isn’t during or after whitening, but if I put pressure on the teeth, it feels like the nerves in the area are more irritated than ever. What’s causing this? – Luke


Thanks for submitting your question. Persistent tooth sensitivity should not be ignored because it can lead to internal damage and root canal treatment. Until the issue is diagnosed and treated, you should discontinue whitening your teeth, because bleaching gel can cause further irritation.

The good news is that your teeth aren’t sensitive to heat or cold, so it is unlikely that the pulp (living tissue in the tooth) is damaged.

How Are Sensitive Spots on Teeth Treated?

Photo of upper and lower teeth whitening trays in a blue case; for information on teeth alignment from the office Plano dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Discontinue whitening until your dentist says it’s safe

Although many dentists aren’t aware of it, teeth slightly flex where the crown and root meet. These tiny movements can occur when we bite, chew, or clench or grind our teeth. Flexure causes small amounts of tooth structure to break. Over time, flexing sends impulses to a tooth and creates sensitivity. The tooth can develop a significant groove, referred to as an abfracted lesion.

It’s relatively easy for your dentist to treat teeth that are sensitive in specific locations.

  • Your dentist must examine your teeth to determine the size of the spots.
  • If the spots are small enough, your dentist will seal them.
  • Larger grooves must be filled. An ordinary filling often won’t stay in the grooves, so your dentist can use a microfill composite or another flexible filling material. Microfill composite will eliminate or reduce sensitivity in the teeth.

After treatment, your dentist will let you know when it’s safe to resume whitening your teeth.

Plano female dentist, Miranda Lacy DDS, sponsors this post.

Chipped Your Tooth? A Natural Looking—and Cheaper—Alternative to a Porcelain Veneer

Yesterday I fell and chipped the outer corner of my front left tooth, and I’m afraid that I cannot afford to have a dentist correct it. The chip is so large that there is a dark space, like a sideways triangle, in my smile.

I’ve been frantically looking online to find what type of treatment a dentist might recommend. Most of the search results come up with porcelain veneers. Based on what I read, my concerns are that I cannot afford to spend $1000 + on a porcelain veneer. I’m paying my way through medical school, so fixing my smile is essential. But I am afraid that anything cheaper than a veneer won’t look natural. – Thanks. Anika


A cosmetic dentist can affordably repair a chipped tooth with chairside dental bonding—made with silica or quartz that is bound with dental resin. Experienced cosmetic dentists stock a variety of composites to replicate the variations in shade and translucence of your natural teeth.

But a general or family dentist who doesn’t have an artistic eye or advanced training in aesthetics won’t be able to produce lifelike results. That’s why most general dentists recommend a porcelain veneer or a crown to restore a chipped tooth.

Before-and-after photos of a chipped tooth repaired with dental bonding.
Dental bonding can repair a chipped tooth more affordably than a porcelain veneer

Although Dental Bonding Is Affordable, It Requires Skill

Dentists apply composite freehand, while you’re sitting in the dental chair.  What’s the process? What will your cosmetic dentist do to restore your tooth?

  • Select shades of dental composite to replicate the characteristics of your tooth enamel
  • Roughen your chipped tooth
  • Apply, shape, and sculpt the composite
  • Polish it to match the gloss of your natural teeth

Carefully a select cosmetic dentist. You can look at several dentists’ websites to find information about their advanced training and experience in cosmetic dentistry.

Miranda Lacy, DDS of Plano, TX sponsors this post.