Prednisone and Sensitive Teeth: Is it just my imagination?

The month after I was released from the hospital, I noticed that my teeth were getting more sensitive to temperature. I mentioned it to both my rheumie and my dentist in that same month. I had been taking 60mg of prednisone up to that point. I suggested to my rheumie that it was a side effect of the steroids; he said no. My dentist didn’t think it was the steroids either. She said she could give me a treatment for the sensitivity. Sigh… I saw my dentist 6 months later and mentioned to her that I still had some tooth sensitivity, but it wasn’t as bad as before. I mentioned this to her in hopes of starting a discussion about the possible effects of prednisone. I told her that I noticed that my tooth sensitivity decreased as my prednisone dosage decreased.

When I first mentioned my sensitive teeth to my dentist, she recommended that I use Sensodyne toothpaste. She said that if that doesn’t help and the sensitivity gets worse that there was a topical treatment that she could administer. Prior to that I was using Tom’s of Maine’s Natural Toothpaste. Interestingly enough, I had made the switch from toothpastes that had the ingredient SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) to Tom’s of Maine because I had started to get sores in my mouth. I had done some research and found that others had experienced sores caused by SLS. Now the sores were prior to my lupus diagnosis, so I wonder if the sores were from lupus or from the toothpaste? However, the sores did go away after I made the switch to the SLS-free toothpaste. In my most recent visit to my dentist, she recommended that I try a new toothpaste, Biotene, to help with my sensitivity. I have yet to try this one out. I couldn’t find it at Target, so I will buy online. I was happy to learn that Biotene is SLS-free.

My prednisone dosage had decreased by 50 milligrams in between my two dentist visits (6 months apart). A couple of months ago, eating salad was a major feat. The cold lettuce leaves hurt my teeth. I resorted to making salad early and leaving it out to get to room temperature. Even then, the lettuce and company in the salad hurt my teeth. Even air hurt. If I happened to take in a large breath through my mouth and air passed over my teeth, my nerves wracked with pain. Seriously, it would stop me in my tracks.

During my period of extreme sensitivity, I had to make changes to the way I ate (and breathed).

  • I ate warm or hot food.
  • I put refrigerated lettuces out on counter to get to room temperature.
  • I never refrigerated my fruit.
  • I always cut or sliced my fruit; it hurt to bite into something like an apple or pear even if it was at room temperature.
  • I drank from a straw if I had a smoothie.
  • I drank room temperature beverages. I always asked for water without ice at restaurants.
  • I wore a scarf around my mouth when I went for walks to act as a buffer to any air if I happened to breath through my mouth. I tried not to get winded so that I could avoid having to breath through my mouth.
  • I brushed my teeth with warm water—never cold or just straight from the first-turned-on faucet.

My doctors and I are definitely not on the same page here. I was frustrated in discussing this with my doctors. Perhaps I was frustrated because it really wasn’t a discussion; it was just my question and their answer–no relevance. But my experience told me different. How can I not believe that the tooth sensitivity is connected to the steroids?

The only thing that I believe made a notable difference in my sensitivity was when my prednisone dosage dropped, and my body had time to work the steroids out of my system. But before that happened, eating (and sometimes breathing) was a bit of a struggle. I also have to include that I was doing a version of the autoimmune protocol diet in the last 5 months when I have noticed an improvement in my teeth. My dosage lowering and new diet/lifestyle do coincide.

I did do a few Google searches and found that there are others who have had similar experiences with prednisone and tooth sensitivity. So, I am glad it’s not just me. I still have some sensitivity but just not as bad. I’d love to see a study done on this. Perhaps more doctors will then see it as relevant and then patients can be better prepared and know what they might expect.

Have you ever experienced tooth sensitivity because of your medications? What helped your situation? Do you have any tips to share?

57 thoughts on “Prednisone and Sensitive Teeth: Is it just my imagination?

  1. Marielena says:

    I have had the same frustrating experience! The doctors and dentists don’t seem to believe that there is a correlation between tooth sensitivity and prednisone but I didn’t have the problem before my last huge flare. Ughhhh! After 2 or 3 dental visits (6 months apart), my dentist finally applied a topical treatment – it has helped some but not completely.

    • Tom says:

      I was at one point taking 80 mg of prednisone a day. During the increase from 40 to 80 mg, my teeth became sensitive to cold. Prior to being on Prednisone I used sensitivity toothpaste because I had some sensitivity due to gum recession but the toothpaste worked great and my sensitivity was under control until I got on the high dose of prednisone. I have been weaned off prednisone and have been off it for 2 weeks but the sensitivity is still there. I’m hoping it will fade away. My dentist theorized where it was possible the sensitivity was caused by prednisone but she had never heard of it. I don’t know what else it could have been.

    • Dee says:

      Hi thanks for this post! I was wondering the same thing! This sensitivity is out of hand even breathing hurts. It’s definitely has something to do with prednisone! How long did the sensitivity lessen?

  2. Amy says:

    I’ve been on prednisone for three months now and began experiencing the extreme tooth sensitivity about one month ago. It only occurred to me today that there might be a connection so I Googled it.

    I’m relieved there are others who have experienced it and that it seems to be a side effect that will reside once the drug is discontinued. I had been afraid that it was permanent or a sign of impending tooth or gum loss.

  3. Adam says:

    I am on prednisone now – started at 140 mg/day mid October – currently at 40 mg/day (mid December). About a week ago I noticed my teeth are sensitive to cold. I have never had this problem before, and I have no current known tooth health issues. Oddly, the sensitivity is not localized to one tooth or area and this is why I assumed it was related to prednisone.

    I will discuss this with my hematologist on my next visit, but the proper way to report side effects (and have them taken into account) is to contact the manufacturer of the medication. I would suggest anyone else experiencing this “side effect” do the same.

  4. Diane says:

    I googled the correlation of tooth sensitivity and Prednisone use and was glad to read others saying same thing here. I look forward to being off of the steroid within the next month or so and hoping the sensitivity decreases. I want to use white strips and don’t dare during this time!

  5. Kelly says:

    Glad to hear others have experienced this as well. I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis in December 2015 and have been taking 60 mg of Prednisone daily since the beginning of January and started to experience the cold sensitivity especially on my upper incisors about two weeks ago.

    • Joyce Barnwell says:

      Hi Kelly I also have sarcoidosis. I am wondering how you are doing? I was diagnosed in March. Ia am experiencing every known side effect from prednisone and just started having sensitive teeth. … just keep to the list! The only treatment I am receiving for the sarcoidosis is prednisone and a symbicort inhaler.

  6. Husam says:

    hi everyone .
    i m having the same problem. im experiencing tooth sensitivity (to cold). and also .. i feel like their surface is smoother (like you would feel after having them cleaned by the dentist). i been on cortizone for 2 months after eye surgery and i ve had other problems (puffy face and insomnia). i stopped taking it yesterday now i can only hope the side effects will start disappearing.

    • I have not yet been diagnosed. I have undiff connective tissue disease. I have been on prednisone for 6 mos. 20 mg, as high as 60 mg. Now im down to 20 mg. My teeth are extreemly sensitive to cold. Could it be the same effect prednisone has on the bones? Depleting the calcium… my dentist thinks maybe I need a mouth guard, I think its the prednisone!

      • Monica Monica says:

        Mouth guard? What purpose do you think your dentist things a mouth guard will achieve? I wear a night guard, but it didn’t have any effect on my tooth sensitivity. I wonder if you might be onto something with the calcium depletion. Thank you for sharing!

  7. This is definitely NOT in your head! I’m currently going through the exact same thing. When my pred doses are high for over a month I get the sores and also the sensitive teeth. It is AWFUL!!! My autoimmune disease also causes issues with swallowing so all if this together is ANOYING! To say the least. lol I’m going to try your suggestion with the toothpaste. With any luck it will help! Thanks for the good read.

  8. Melvyn Adams says:

    On prednisolone with abiraterone for prostate cancer. Only on 10mg per day but started in September 2014 – 19 months. Tooth sensitivity started about 14 months ago. Tried all the sensitive toothpastes without effect. Dentist put some stuff on them -no effect. Now on prescribed fluoride toothpaste to help remineralisation. After two months no effect. Glad to see that I am not the only one.

  9. Dana says:

    I went on Prednisone 50 mg dosage 5 weeks ago and have been weening down. I am at 5 mg now and was supposed to be in my last week but have to jump back up to 25 mg due to a flare-up at the low dosage. I have never had tooth sensitivity but have noticed in the last week or so that my front teeth hurt when I drink cold tap water (not from the fridge… I never like it that cold). I assumed it was from the Prednisone as I am not on any other medications and have never had the issue before. My doctor did warn me to increase my dairy and take calcium supplements to offset the bone-thinning effects of the Prednisone. I wondered if teeth could also be affected as well as bones.

  10. Corinne says:

    Yes, you are not alone! Been on 40mg since Janusry this year (over three months) and I remember starting to notice the sensitivity in my teeth – most my front two – about a month and a half into it. They’re weaning me off the medication now, and I’m hoping he sensitivity will go away as the dosage decreases. It’s nad and I’ve never had sensitivity like it! I agree with you (sigh) it is very annoying that the doctors don’t put two and two together and that they only want to address the symptoms with another medication. Ugh. Good luck!

  11. Thomas Williams says:

    I’ve been on 20mg of pred for around 6 months. Teeth have become extremely sensitive. Glad I googled it and found I’m not the only one/imagining it.

  12. Adam says:

    Wow, I thought I was the only one. My doctor and dentist both keep telling me there is no correlation between prednisone and my teeth being very sensitive. I actually was at the dentist a few weeks ago (which was not fun because of the sensitivity) and they said everything looked great, and they didn’t know why I was still sensitive after trying all sorts of things. I was on 60mg for about 7 months and then another 2 months to ween me off. I have never had issues with my teeth. My dentist always comments on how great my teeth look and that they are healthy. I started taking prednisone and about 2 months into it my teeth became incredibly sensitive. I’ve been off since the beginning of December 2015, and they are still sensitive. They have gotten better since being off prednisone, but it comes in waves. I’ll have a tiny bit of sensitivity for a week or two, and then out of no where it becomes sensitive again for a few days or a week.

    Has anyone has the side effect go away after a certain period of time, or is this something we will have to deal with from now on?

  13. Lee says:

    I’m on Prednisone and have the same exact experience, so Googled it. Glad it’s not just me. I’m coming off it, slowly, now. So, I will look forward to this sensitivity going.

  14. BJ says:

    I have been on 50 mg of prednisone since last November…….teeth are super sensitive. I did not have any issues before the prednisone. Dealing with polymyositis is not easy 🙁

  15. So relieved to find this page. I have had sensitive teeth on & off for years. I found when I switched from regular toothpaste to Weleda Plant Tooth Gel (green tube) it made a huge drop off in sensitivity. I personally think the sensitivity was caused by standard tooth paste. Anyway, after switch to Weleta, it was a non issue unless there was a big change in weather (big temp drop). However, I was given a large dose of prednisone at the ER this week due to extremely swollen glands & difficulty swallowing. Within 12 hours my 2 back molars got crazy sensitive. I have never felt it this bad ever. I had to take a much smaller dose for 3 days after & am now hopefully done with that med. I hope my teeth return to how they were. I can’t brush those 2 @ at all at the moment. Wish it had been in the warning label. Thanks for these posts.

  16. Aimee says:

    I’ve been off prednisone for awhile (thank goodness), and had to go in this week not because of lupus (at least not directly), but because of a weird cough I can’t get rid of. I have changed nothing else. Nothing. And all of the sudden 3 days in my teeth plate super sensitive to cold. One of my coworkers even noticed I was acting funny after taking a drink today. I’m glad it isn’t just me! Thanks for talking about this.

  17. P says:

    I also have developed extreme tooth sensitivity after several months on high-dose prednisone. I’ve noticed that the pain occurs now not just with cold foods and liquids but also with foods with a low pH value. This includes things like strawberries, peaches, and tomatoes. There are some helpful online pH food lists but it’s hard to avoid all the ingredients. I’ve been trying Sensodyne ‘rapid relief’ toothpaste but it’s stopped working now, unfortunately.

  18. Beth says:

    It’s definitely not in your head and the docs and dentists are wrong. I had Cushings disease in 2009 and had cortisol levels 500xs normal (equivalent to high doses of prednisone). At onset of disease, my first symptom was extreme tooth sensitivity. When Cushings was treated, the sensitivity went away.

  19. Marissa Fisher says:

    I have noticed that it doesn’t matter if the liquid is hot, cold or room temperature, my teeth are still sensitive. I was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor and was put on Dexamethasone steroids, 4mg 4x’s/day following my Crainiotomy. I am a nurse and it made perfect sense to me that the steroids were the reason my teeth had become so sensitive to temperature. I am off the Dexamethasone now and am hopeful the issues will resolve soon. I do use a “sensitive” (sensodyne) toothpaste too.

  20. Sally says:

    I was on prednisone and after I was gradually weaned off I experienced sensitive teeth and other pains that I had before taking it. I thought the prednisone was getting rid of all the inflammation in my body and getting off of it was when the pain started. Now I’m finding out others experienced pain during treatment.

  21. marc says:

    hello I ended up with a form of vasculitus. Was up to 120MG of prednisone, and now I’m down to 30– Started them in July– November now. My teeth are extremely sensitive– started happening a few weeks ago. My doctors think there is no corrilation.

  22. Wilson Branson says:

    i started experiencing temperature sensitivity in my teeth a few weeks ago when i was switched from dexamethasone to prednisone in an effort to wean me off of steroids. i found this page when i was researching to see if this was a common side effect. glad to learn i’m not imagining it but sorry the rest of you are experiencing it too…

  23. Eddie says:

    I have been on and off prednisone three different times in the past 5 or 6 years. Each time i have had extremely sensitive teeth with pain that brings me to a point of not wanting to eat or drink anything cold or hot. Even my gums were sore so i began searching to see if i was the only person experiencing this problem. Its good to see that are others who are having same issues. Wish someone would post a answer as to how to stop the pain or how to keep it from happening.

  24. Cynthia Keenan says:

    So glad to find this website and learn that I’m not crazy. I’ve been on prednisone for two years. I never had sensitive teeth before the steroids. I’ve tried Sensodyne to no avail. I’m down to 3 mg/day and hope to be off the prednisone by the end of February. Hoping the sensitivity to cold will dissipate over time.

  25. Rachel says:

    Like most of you, I’m on prednisone (55mg, tapering 5mg a week) and since increasing from 20 to 60 from a flare, breathing cold air hurts my teeth. Cold drinks send a spike of pain. Now how the heck do we fix it?!

  26. Claudia says:

    My husband is also on 60 mg/day of prednisone since 10/27 .. about a week ago he started complaining for teeth sensitivity. He has IGA nephropathy and is being treated by a nephrologist – I’m curious of what his response will be when I bring it up at the next visit.

  27. Alejandro Perez says:

    Hello just leaving my two cents and I’m glad I’m not the only one. I was diagnosed with leukemia and during treatment I was taking 100mg prednisone a day for a month. Once they cut me off cold turkey I had terrible withdrawals and one of them was sensitivity to cold drinks. I’m back on a tapering regime currently taking 25mg a day but the sensitivity is still there, not as painful. I will start sensodyne soon.

  28. Jamie says:

    Same here! Every time Ivhave had to go on prednisone, I have gotten tooth sensitivity. Generally my back bottom teeth and my teeth always feel fuzzy…like when you wake up in the morning…even after brushing several times a day. So strange. Luckily, I don’t have to go on steroids much. Hang in there, ya’ll!

  29. Judi O says:

    I’ve been on 20mg Prednisone for 4 months and have both tooth sensitivity and burning mouth. Anyone else have burning mouth?

  30. mona says:

    Thank you I am only on 5 mg after 3 months and I cannot drink cold drinks or breath in cold air-
    Thank you all for your validation!

  31. Michael McGovern says:

    On prednazone for last two weeks for Sweets Syndrome. My teeth ache most of the time and are sensitive to cold. I never have teeth problems. Anyone who says there is no correlation between the two is wrong!

  32. Michele says:

    Drs like to make you think you are crazy and the only one who has these types of problems. My teeth went crazy sensitive on Prednisone. It resolved once I stopped the drug. Took a little while but they are back to normal now.

  33. Emeka S says:

    I’ve been on Prednisone eye drop for 8 months now. I take the drops couple of times a day. I could barely speak clearly now. My teeth is super sentitive even I speak.

  34. Karen says:

    Suffering from GCA and PMR. Now slowly reducing prednisone (currently 6mg) down from 40 mg per day. Teeth extremely sensitive to anything cold. Normally never had problems with my teeth at all but went to the dentist and have four cavities! It definitely is the prednisone and my dentist didn’t disagree. Advised Sensodyne toothpaste and gave me a recipe of salt, baking soda & water to rinse mouth four times/day to reduce acidity.

    • Monica Monica says:

      Karen, how refreshing to have a dentist who doesn’t disagree. How is the Sensodyne and rinse combination working for you?

  35. Debbie says:

    I have neurosarcoidosis and have been on 45 mg Prednisone for about 7 months. Started having tooth sensitivity to cold that progressed for a few months and has gradually improved with Sensodyne. It’s much better, but still there. As others here, I continue to let cold foods come to room temperature before eating. Glad to know I’m not the only one having this issue. My dentist also did not think it was related to Prednisone.

    • Monica Monica says:

      Debbie, thank you so much for your comment. I am glad the Sensodyne is helping. It is an overall frustrating ordeal.

  36. Jane H Hill says:

    Might as well contribute to this thread and hope the docs notice. I have NEVER had tooth sensitivity. But after 3.5 months on prednisone, starting at 60 mg, finally at 20, I started to have nasty cold sensitivity — even apples are a problem, and ice cream is not fun. Now down to 10 mg (at 6 months on pred.) and teeth are still sensitive. I don’t expect to hit 5 mg until September.

    • Monica Monica says:

      Yes, Jane, I hope more doctors will take notice of our experiences. Thank you for your contribution to the discussion.

  37. Margot says:

    This blog has been so helpful – confirms the reason for my extreme teeth sensitivity of the past week!!! Have been on prednisolone for just two weeks and one day so far – to treat Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA). Started on 30 mg per day and decreasing by 5 mg weekly over 6 weeks down to being off it after that. Started experiencing extremely painful sensitivity in lower teeth even to room temperature water after just one week. Have to warm all drinks now. Now upper teeth are also becoming sensitised. Even difficult to eat some fruits as well once their natural juices are released on chewing. Have always used sensitive toothpaste and mouthwash due to slight teeth sensitivity from gum recession caused by over-brushing. However this extreme sensitivity is like nothing I have ever experienced before – can only look at ice-cream longingly now… 🙁 Really hope that at the end of my 6 week course of predinsolone this sensitivity will stop.

    • Monica Monica says:

      I hear you on the ice cream Margot. Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope the remainder of the six weeks goes by fast for you.

  38. I just came off of fourteen days on forty milligrams of prednisone a day, and any food or drink that is cold make my teeth hurt. I believe without a doubt, that the cause of my tooth sensitivity is the prednisone. The prednisone also allowed me only one hour of sleep, if I got any at all, during this fourteen day period. I was so wired, that I worked every day and night without stopping.

  39. Nancy says:

    I just decided to Google this and here y’all are! I started having sensitivity to cold very shortly after starting 50mg pred/day for Crohn’s. Tapered off, been totally off pred for 12 days now. There is no difference in my tooth sensitivity tho. They are still really bad to both cold and air. I haven’t noticed hot sensitivity but I’m not a coffee or hot tea drinker and haven’t consumed hot soup lately. I’m adding to this discussion because my teeth have not gotten better and I only read ONE post where someone mentioned their teeth were getting better. So, is anyone getting better? Is this going to get better? Because right now I’m miserable.
    I appreciate that I’m not alone, and clearly we all have something to teach our doctors and dentists.
    But right now I’d like to know from all of you who had this and are no longer on prednisone, are your teeth better now? If so, how long did it take?
    I just want to know if this is going to go away, because it’s been 12 days and I have zero improvement.
    I guess should mention I’ve done all the stuff others mentioned… sensodyne toothpaste, a special sensitivity rinse 3 times a day, in-office fur-like substance applied, (and biotene, which is for dry mouth, not tooth sensitivity.)
    I hope people are getting better once off prednisone, and I hope to see more posts about my chances of this going away.

    • Monica Monica says:

      Hi Nancy, my tooth sensitivity did improve after I got off the higher doses of prednisone. However, it took many weeks for the sensitivity to go away. I still have some sensitivity, but it is improved. I can go for walks in cold air and not have my teeth be bothered like before. Good luck! (What is the in-office-fur-like substance?)

  40. Nate says:

    Between 2012 and 2014, I was on a daily dose of 60mg of Prednisone, during which I developed extreme teeth sensitivity involving all of my teeth equally. Every time I would try to taper off, I would have a flare, and would go back to 60mg. During this time, my dentist believed the Prednisone was to blame for my teeth sensitivity, and would apply topical fluoride treatments, and had me on a prescription sodium fluoride toothpaste. These treatments were of little help. After I was able to successfully taper off the Prednisone, the sensitivity disappeared. Here’s where things get interesting, as I have now had a recurrence, only this time, I’m not on Prednisone. I recently (two months ago) had my fourth epidural steroid injection (ESI), all four done within a three month period, and guess what’s back? The extreme teeth sensitivity! Only now it’s worse than before when I was on the Prednisone. Anything that’s cold is the worst, but almost anything, no matter the temperature, is difficult to chew or drink. Even room temperature water is painful to drink. I have to drink with a straw, and only drink room temperature water. I can’t even breathe through my mouth, as the pain is so terrible. I promptly made an appointment with my dentist who I’ve been seeing for 18 years now, and, just like the last time this happened, there are no visual signs of any problems, and my x-rays show nothing, but he again believes the steroids are to blame. We’re back to the topical fluoride treatments and prescription toothpaste, although I have gained no relief whatsoever. We have discussed the possibility of doing molding trays for my teeth to allow me to put the prescription toothpaste in the trays and leave them on my teeth for longer exposure, which I am not sure will be worth the cost, even though it is pretty affordable. Unfortunately, I can’t taper off the injections like I would with oral steroids, so I have to wait for the steroids to run their course in order for the sensitivity to go away. Until then, I find myself suffering on a daily basis. This experience is torture, and I have decided that I won’t be getting my next two rounds of ESI done, and will likely never have another round done in the future. I’m considering avoiding my steroid injections for my bursitis as well, as I feel I’d rather deal with the pain of my bursitis than deal with this extreme teeth sensitivity. I’m at the point where I have to choose the lesser of two evils. I cannot wait for this to be over.

    • Monica Monica says:

      Whoa Nate, it sounds like you are really dealing with a difficult and painful experience. I can understand you reconsidering the next steroid injections. Please let us know if you do get the molding trays and try that treatment. Thank you for sharing!

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