Dental fillings are the recommended treatment for cavities and are commonly done. During the treatment, the dentist removes the infected part of your tooth, leaving a hole. They then close it with a filling to protect your leftover tooth.
Sometimes, the filling hurts afterward, especially if the dentist had to drill deep into the tooth to remove the cavity. Filling sensitivity is usually normal and should go away rapidly on its own. Long-lasting sensitivity can indicate another issue, like an infection.
Reasons Why Teeth May Hurt After a Filling
When the dentist repairs the cavity with a hard filling, it adds extra pressure on the gum and nerve root, causing pain. It should last only a few weeks and eventually stop.
Exposure to hot and cold temperatures shortly after the filling procedure can also cause more sensitivity in the tooth. Sugary and acidic foods are other common causes.
You can experience pain and sensitivity in a tooth that did not receive a filling. This is called “referred pain.” Referred pain can be frustrating, but fortunately, it disappears quickly.
Sensitivity that lasts more than a few weeks after the procedure is not normal. If the filling hurts after years, there is a problem, and you should seek help.
You can get another cavity in the same tooth where you got a filling. When this happens, it causes throbbing and shooting pain. You could also see a change in tooth color, with the filling looking darker.
The filling is changing your bite
A filling can cause your tooth to be taller than before, preventing your mouth from closing completely. Eventually, your tooth becomes painful because of the extra pressure.
You should address this issue sooner rather than later because it can cause the filling to crack. If this happens, your tooth risks having another cavity or becoming infected.
Pulpitis is the inflammation of the pulp, a tissue found in the tooth’s center. The dentist uses a drill to remove the bad tissue in the cavity. This process releases heat, which can cause inflammation.
Infection can also develop in the pulp. This happens when the dentist does not remove all the cavities. Pus is a common sign of infection.
There are two different types of pulpitis. They are reversible and irreversible. In the case of reversible pulpitis, the main symptom is sensitivity, but this eventually goes away, and the tooth heals.
Irreversible pulpitis occurs when the nerve inside the tooth dies. The only solution, in this case, is to perform a root canal treatment.
Just like the pulp, the nerve can become irritated following the procedure. This is especially common when the dentist needs to drill deep to remove all the cavity tissue.
Loose or broken filling
Sometimes, the filling is loose and does not fit properly in the tooth, causing discomfort. The filling can also crack, which exposes the nerve and tissues. When this happens, the tooth can become quite sensitive when exposed to hot and/or cold temperatures.
Although this is rare, you could be allergic to the material used for the filling, resulting in tooth sensitivity. If this is the reason for the pain, the dentist needs to remove your filling and replace it with another material.
Different materials in contact
You can experience sensitivity if two different materials are used on adjacent teeth. For example, let’s say you have a gold crown and then get a silver filling besides the tooth. If the two materials touch, you can feel pain. The only solution is to change the filling material.
Remedies for Pain
It is important to get help if the pain persists after filling. In the meantime, to relieve tooth sensitivity, you can:
- Avoid cold and hot foods or beverages.
- Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks (lemons, oranges, wine, vinegar).
- Take a painkiller like Advil or Motrin.
- Gently brush and floss around the tooth with the filling.
- Use a soft toothbrush.
- Apply cold compresses on the cheek or the jaw near the affected tooth. This is especially useful if the jaw hurts after the filling.
- Use an analgesic ointment in the mouth to numb the affected area.
Avoiding Cavities after Filling
Although useful to treat cavities, a filling hurts sometimes. To avoid pain, it is best to prevent cavities in the first place. You can do that by:
- Brushing your teeth daily with fluoride toothpaste.
- Rinsing the mouth regularly with fluoride mouthwash.
- Making regular appointments with the dentist.
- Getting dental sealants. They last many years and protect the tooth against plaque and acid damage.
- Reduce sugar consumption. Bacteria in the mouth are attracted to sugar because they use it as food. When bacteria accumulate on the tooth, they produce acid, damaging it and causing a cavity.
- Getting a fluoride treatment, if recommended by the dentist. He might suggest a fluoride treatment if you are at high-risk for tooth decay.
Getting a filling is a simple procedure, but it can sometimes cause sensitivity for a few days. If the pain lasts longer, there might be something else going on. For example, another cavity might have developed under the filling. Other possibilities include inflammation, allergic reactions, a loose filling, and an irritated nerve.
- Canadian Dental Association
- Medical News Today
- Cleveland Clinic