Cavities are a common dental issue that many of us will face over the course of our lives. Usually the treatment is fairly straightforward and shouldn’t leave you in too much discomfort. However, some patients have reported more sensitivity after getting a cavity filled. Is this a reason for concern?
Short-term sensitivity and discomfort are common after a dental filling. These symptoms are typically caused by irritation to the nerve inside the tooth, and they usually subside over time. Contact your dentist If your pain persists for longer than two weeks or becomes unbearable.
If you’re experiencing a bit of pain after a dental filling or procedure, don’t panic. Your mouth went through some trauma before the filling, and now it has to get used to the new material in your mouth. Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on in your mouth when you get a filling and what you can do about these unpleasant side effects.
Why Your Teeth Hurt After A Filling
If you’re experiencing sensitivity and discomfort after a filling, you’re not alone. Sensitive teeth refer to mild aches or pains, often when drinking hot or cold beverages. These symptoms are normal side effects that occur after getting dental procedures such as fillings or tooth extractions.
Tooth sensitivity is typically caused by inflammation of the nerves inside the tooth. Here are some of the scenarios that might result in this issue:
Short-term sensitivity and discomfort from a filling typically happen because the procedure has irritated or caused inflammation to the nerve within the tooth.
Teeth have multiple layers. The outer enamel and cementum preserve the soft tissues and nerves from exposure.
When decay breeches the enamel into the second layer of the tooth, the dentin, the tooth will need to be filled. However, deep fillings can get within reach of the nerves, resulting in irritation and discomfort.
Mild sensitivity and pain should subside as your nerve heals. This can take a few days, weeks, or even months in some cases. Once your nerve has fully healed, you should no longer feel any pain or discomfort.
Incorrect Filling Alignment
It’s common to experience some minor discomfort when biting down for a few days after getting a filling. The symptoms will typically go away on their own.
However, if the filling is too high or incorrectly placed, it will cause more pressure when you bite down. The extra pressure is caused by unevenly distributed force when your top and lower jaw meet. This can cause more discomfort and pain.
If you feel you may be hitting the tooth incorrectly, consult your dentist. They may need to adjust the filling.
Cracks and Damage
Incorrectly placed fillings can cause cracks to the filling as well. When left untreated, the filling can break or fall out, exposing the sensitive layers of the tooth. You should contact your dentist for a reshaping if you believe yours has been incorrectly positioned.
Although uncommon, you can experience pain after a filling due to an oral infection called pulpitis. Pulpitis occurs when your dental pulp becomes inflamed, resulting in sensitivity and throbbing pains. Pulpitis can happen in a few scenarios:
- You’ve had trauma to the tooth, such as cracks or breakage
- You had a deep cavity that reaches the inner pulp layer
- You’ve had multiple fillings or procedures to the same tooth
Pulpitis can show up in two ways. Reversible pulpitis refers to mild inflammation, and the tooth will heal on its own in this case. Irreversible pulpitis happens when the nerve is damaged and starts to die. Irreversible pulpitis requires a root canal to save the tooth.
In some cases, allergic reactions to the material used in fillings cause sensitivity and discomfort. Amalgam is the most common filling material that causes allergic reactions.
How Long Will the Sensitivity Last?
Don’t be alarmed if you experience mild sensitivity or discomfort for a few days or up to a week after a filling. These symptoms will usually subside and can be treated in the interim with home remedies or over-the-counter products.
However, you should contact your dentist if the sensitivity persists for weeks or months after the procedure.
How to Treat Tooth Sensitivity After a Cavity Filling
Temporary sensitivity and discomfort are common after having a cavity filled. Although expected, these symptoms can be quite frustrating to deal with. Here are some ways you can alleviate aches and pains after a filling.
Take Over-the-Counter Painkillers
You can take over-the-counter painkillers like Ibuprofen, Motrin, or Advil (all on Amazon) if you’re experiencing sensitivity after a filling or dental procedure. These medicines help ease inflammation, pain, and discomfort.
Be sure to speak with your dentist or primary care physician to determine what’s right for you. Follow the dosing instructions and guidelines as directed.
Be sure to brush gently after a filling or dental procedure to avoid unnecessary damage. Applying too much pressure can increase sensitivity and discomfort. Use gentle, circular strokes on your teeth and gums. Always use a soft-bristle toothbrush, like the Nimbus (on Amazon), since they’re more gentle on the teeth.
Avoid Whitening Products
Avoid whitening toothpaste and products after a dental filling or procedure. These products contain ingredients that can increase sensitivity and pain. Ask your dentist which toothpaste you should be using after a filling.
Swish With Water After Eating
Be sure to swish your mouth out with water after eating sugary or acidic foods. Swishing water around your mouth after acidic or sugar foods helps return your mouth’s pH balance back to normal. This can reduce the amount of harmful oral bacteria.
Use a Cold Compress
You can use a cold compress or ice pack to ease pain, sensitivity, and swelling after a filling. Cold compresses and ice packs help constrict the blood vessels in the painful area, reducing discomfort in the process.
You can apply a cold compress to the affected side of your jaw every few hours for 15-20 minutes.
Don’t Brush Too Soon After Eating
Brushing too soon after consuming carbs or sugary foods can do more harm than good. Sugary and acidic foods can soften tooth enamel. Brushing too soon after consuming these foods and beverages increases enamel erosion and decay. Be sure to wait a minimum of 30 minutes before brushing after you eat.
When to See a Dentist After a Filling
Tooth sensitivity and discomfort after a filling is nothing to be alarmed about. These symptoms should subside after a few days or weeks. However, you should contact your dentist if your symptoms persist for more than two weeks after the procedure.
You should also see your dentist as soon as possible if the sensitivity worsens, you’re finding it difficult to eat, the pain is intolerable, or you have a fever. These symptoms can be signs of more severe issues and health complications.