Tooth Pain and Sensitivity After Filling: What to Know

It is possible for newly filled teeth to become painful or sensitive after a filling.

The pain is usually for a few days but could last up to a few weeks after the filling. It typically is not a sign of any imminent danger to the tooth, neither is it always an indication that there is some further problem with the tooth in question.

What Causes It?

1. The Treatment Procedure

This is the most common reason why one could experience pain after a filling. During the treatment procedure, the tooth tissues could get irritated from all the excavation of the decay, drilling, and shaping of the tooth to accommodate the filling material.

This could cause some degree of inflammation in the pulp and nerves inside the tooth. The tooth, in turn, would respond by becoming sensitive to stimuli such as hot or cold drinks.

The tooth would remain sensitive until the inflammation subsides. This could be for just a few days or even last a few weeks.

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2. The Type Of Filling Material Used

Tooth fillings done using amalgam may tend to cause sensitivity to that particular tooth. Amalgam is essentially made of metal, and one of the properties of metal is the ability to conduct heat or cold.

An amalgam filling in the mouth can effectively conduct hot or cold temperatures in the oral environment to the pulp, thereby increasing sensitivity. This is why sometimes when you take hot or cold drinks while having an amalgam filling present in the mouth, you may feel sensitivity in that tooth.

Another aspect to consider in relation to amalgam filling is its ability to contract and expand. This is another property of metals. When you drink cold drinks, the amalgam contracts, thereby pulling in on your tooth.

On the other hand, when you drink hot drinks, the amalgam expands. This expansion puts pressure on the tooth as well as on the pulp, which might already be sensitive if it is a new filling. This ability to expand and contract is another reason why a tooth can be sensitive after filling.

3. Improperly Positioned Filling:

When a dental filling is built up too high or is not sitting in the tooth properly, it could distort your normal occlusion, that is, the way your teeth contact each other when they come together in a bite.

Continuously biting down with an improperly positioned filling in the mouth could cause dental pain and discomfort. An ill-fitting filling may even crack or become loose, thereby causing pain or sensitivity.

If the edges of a filling are not shaped or smoothed down properly, the rough edges may irritate the nearby gums or adjacent teeth. The parts of the gum margin in contact with the edge of the filling could become inflamed.

Improperly shaped filling between teeth could cause pain and even decay because that area would be difficult to clean.

How To Care For Tooth Pain After Filling

  • Maintaining good oral hygiene is the first step to preventing tooth decay and could also help to reduce inflammation and irritation of gum tissues.
  • Pay attention to your food. Keeping your diet soft and avoiding hard or sticky foods can help to reduce the pressure on the filled tooth. Also, avoiding chewing on that tooth for the first few days could relieve your discomfort. It is also encouraged to stay away from foods that could trigger sensitivity such as hot or cold drinks, acidic drinks or sugary foods.
  • Using a toothpaste specially made for sensitive teeth can reduce sensitivity. Also, a mild pain reliever could help.
  • Warm saline mouth rinse is an inexpensive remedy that could relieve pain from the surrounding gum after a filling.

When To See Your Dentist

If you recently had a filling and the filling is still causing pain even after a week, it is advisable to see your dentist. If the filling broke or the whole filling came loose, your immediate action should be to remove the piece of filling from your mouth to prevent swallowing or aspirating it.

Treatment

Your dentist would assess the tooth and your symptoms. This would help him or her to reach a diagnosis and plan the appropriate treatment. The dentist would determine if it is only temporary pain or if it requires more treatment. Depending on the cause of pain, the following could be done:

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  • Prescribe a painkiller or desensitizing toothpaste.
  • Adjust the filling if it is affecting your bite or not smoothened properly.
  • Replace the filling with a new one if the adherence is poor, if there is an electric response between two different fillings in contact, or if there is an allergic reaction to the filling material. A different type of filling material would be used in the case of allergy and electric response.
  • Perform a root canal treatment if the tooth is not in a healthy condition. The tooth may be crowned after the filling, especially if it was a very large filling.

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