If you have a sharp tooth surface that you can feel with your tongue, don’t ignore it.By: Joyce Kahng, DDS •November 15, 2023
Do you feel a rough, sharp edge inside of your mouth, rubbing against your tongue or cheek? Sharp teeth can cause constant irritation, predispose us to injuries, and quickly get worse if we don’t address the issue promptly.
If you have a sharp tooth surface that you can feel with your tongue, don’t ignore it. It’s not simply a matter of the tooth smoothing out on its own. Especially if it’s something that seems to pop up quite suddenly.
There is usually a specific reason why your tooth feels sharp. Typically, it falls into one of the following categories:
Bumps to the mouth, slipping on a wet floor, or getting hit in the face during a basketball game are just a few of the everyday examples of causes behind chipped and broken teeth. Although tooth enamel is extremely strong (it’s the hardest substance in the entire human body) it can still fracture.
During the summer months, orofacial injuries like chipped teeth are even more common because of outdoor sports and water activities. Especially in teens and younger children.
When you clench and grind your teeth—out of stress or while you sleep—it will gradually wear down your tooth enamel. At a certain point, the edges of those worn teeth will feel sharp along the edge. They may even look visibly flatter than they used to.
Chronic teeth clenching and grinding don’t just cause sharp teeth. It can also contribute to TMJ disorder and chronic headaches.
Our teeth are meant to bite together in a certain manner. When they are misaligned, some teeth may hit end-to-end, causing the higher areas of enamel to wear against one another. As the years go by, the teeth that are aligned improperly will begin to look flat, short, and likely have sharp edges on them.
Older dental fillings may eventually start to leak, creating spaces between the filling material and the tooth. When this happens, the tooth immediately surrounding the filling may feel rough to your tongue. Or it can become brittle, causing some areas to break off of the tooth when you’re chewing on it.
Although cavities are not always obvious, larger areas of decay typically create visible voids in teeth that feel sensitive or catch food. They also tend to have a rough edge around the perimeter, which feels sharp to your tongue or can cause your floss to get caught (or even break.)
Depending on why your tooth is sharp or broken—and how bad the damage is—your dentist will likely recommend one or more of the following treatments:
If the sharp edge is extremely small and isn’t posing a functional or cosmetic issue, smoothing it out may be the quickest and best treatment. Having your dentist perform tooth recontouring is simple, comfortable, and affordable. Numbing typically isn’t necessary and the fee may be as little as $50, depending on the circumstances.
Cosmetic bonding uses tooth-colored composite material to cover and reshape irregularities such as chipped teeth. Bonding is frequently used on front teeth after an injury when the damage is mild to moderate. However, it will not withstand heavy biting pressure like a crown does. The average cost of bonding is between $300-600 per tooth.
This solution is only meant as a temporary option and not a permanent solution. If you injure your tooth over the weekend and cannot see an emergency dentist until the next business day, you can cover the area with orthodontic wax or sugar-free gum to lessen any sensitivity.
When cavities are creating sharp edges on your teeth or a smaller filling needs to be updated, a conservative, tooth-colored (composite) filling will help make things whole again. White fillings bond closely with your enamel, minimizing the amount of tooth structure that’s altered, and help stop the spread of decay into adjacent teeth. Depending on the size of the filling, fees usually range from $100-250 before insurance.
Dental fillings can only be placed inside of a tooth when there is still enough healthy structure to support it. For serious fractures, advanced enamel wear, or chronic tooth decay, teeth need an added layer of protection. In this case, a full-coverage crown.
Crowns, sometimes called “caps”, cover the entire tooth and distribute biting pressure so that they can support normal function. Getting a crown normally requires two visits unless your dental office is equipped with in-house milling equipment. Cosmetic crowns will normally cost between $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the materials used, lab fees, and where you live.
If your tooth is damaged to the point that the nerve tissue inside of your tooth is exposed or compromised, covering the area isn’t an option. To save the tooth, your dentist will need to perform a root canal and then place a protective crown over the tooth afterward. Modern root canal treatment feels similar to having a filling or crown placed, thanks to modern advancements in dental technology. Root canal costs depend on how many tooth roots are involved (and which tooth is being treated) with fees starting as low as $1,000 for single-rooted teeth.
Are your teeth sharp because of grinding and clenching? Wearing a protective mouthguard or bite splint will help lessen the strain on your tooth structure to prevent damage in the future. Fees usually start between $300-500 before insurance.
By correcting the alignment of your teeth, you and your dentist can help prevent atypical tooth wear and preserve your updated dental work. Both clear aligners, as well as traditional braces, are effective. Most orthodontic patients prefer to make monthly payments on their treatment, which usually range from $90-$130 a month, depending on the type of appliances you choose.
Regardless of whether your tooth hurts or is sensitive, you need to see a dentist if you notice a sharp tooth in your mouth. Sharp teeth are shaped that way because of some type of physical irregularity. By addressing it quickly, you can prevent the damage from worsening. Not to mention preserve your natural tooth!
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