Tooth sensitivity after filling
Some people experience sensitivity in their filled tooth and the adjacent area after a filling. This usually feels like a sudden shock of pain that disappears relatively quickly, and is usually triggered by extremely hot or cold food or drinks or air hitting the tooth. Other triggers for tooth sensitivity include excessively sugary or acidic food or drinks, or biting down on something while chewing. Most sensitivity that immediately follows the placement of a filling is normal and stops after a brief period. In some cases, however, sensitivity may be caused by an issue that needs to be addressed and treated by a dentist.
If your tooth is sensitive after a filling, it may be because the nerve on the interior of the tooth was irritated during the procedure. This inflammation usually heals within a few days. If the filling was especially deep, however, it may take longer for the nerve to heal and for the tooth sensitivity to diminish. Sometimes, this can take a few days, and sometimes, it can take a few weeks. After the nerve has healed fully, the filled tooth should feel no different from the other teeth.
Bite alignment is another possible source for tooth sensitivity following a filling. When your dentist places a filling, part of the process is to ensure that the bite surface lines up properly with the rest of your teeth. If the filling protrudes too much, this can lead to pain and sensitivity when biting, as it increases pressure on the affected tooth. Usually, a minor misalignment in the bite will correct itself shortly after your procedure, often within a couple of weeks. If you have difficulty eating or discomfort when you close your mouth firmly, and this does not correct itself, you may want to contact your dentist to have the surface of the filled tooth smoothed down so that the bite is properly aligned. Even a minor adjustment can eliminate this discomfort.
While less common, pulpitis may be the cause of tooth sensitivity. A tooth’s pulp is the soft tissue deep within a tooth that contains nerve endings and blood vessels. When this pulp is inflamed, this is called pulpitis. Pulpitis may occur if the affected tooth was cracked, broken, or otherwise traumatized. Pulpitis may also result from a very deep cavity, or if a tooth has undergone recurring procedures, including dental fillings. If the pulpitis is relatively mild, the tooth will heal on its own. If the pulpitis is severe and the nerve inside the tooth has been damaged, you may need a root canal or other restorative procedure. Many times pulpitis can be reversed with a new filling, and you may also receive a prescription for antibiotics if a bacterial infection is present in the tooth.
If you experience sensitivity after having a tooth filled, you may want to use a toothpaste that is designed for sensitive teeth. The potassium nitrate in these products helps to desensitize the teeth. These desensitizing products may take a few days to work, but many patients find relief when they use desensitizing toothpaste twice daily. You may also find relief with over-the-counter pain relievers, topical ointments to numb the teeth, and an extra-soft bristled toothbrush. Be gentle when brushing and flossing, and try to avoid any food or drinks that trigger the sensitive area. If you can’t avoid these foods, rinse the mouth out after consuming them, but don’t brush the teeth immediately. Dentists don’t recommend that people experiencing tooth sensitivity use whitening toothpaste and dental products, as these may increase sensitivity. If your tooth sensitivity does not improve within a few days, or if it worsens, be sure to consult your dentist. You should also call your dentist if you develop a fever or toothache or have significant difficulty eating following a filling. While most tooth sensitivity following a filling is normal, it is important to rule out any possible issues when sensitivity is prolonged or severe. Additionally, if your teeth develop sensitivity a few weeks or months after a procedure, contact your dentist, as this may indicate a larger medical concern.
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