... Skip to main content

It’s usual for a dentist to recommend a dental filling when a person has a cavity in their tooth. Dental fillings are effective and safe, but unfortunately, some people may experience discomfort or tooth sensitivity following the procedure. Carry on reading to discover some of the reasons for tooth sensitivity after a filling, how to treat it, and when it’s time to call a dentist.

Tooth sensitivity is not uncommon following Dental fillings, and usually, any discomfort will go of its own accord within a few days or several weeks, depending on its cause.

What to expect after a tooth filling?

Dentists usually numb the mouth with a local anaesthetic before filling the affected tooth, which means that most patients don’t feel a thing during the procedure and for an hour or two afterwards. Once the numbness wears off, however, it’s a different story. Patients may experience one or more of the following sensations in their mouth:

  • Tender gums
  • Pain when clenching their teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity when drinking hot or cold liquids, inhaling hot or cold air, and eating hot or cold foods
  • Pain in the teeth surrounding the filling
  • Pain in the filled tooth when eating and brushing and flossing

Causes of tooth sensitivity after a filling

Several things may cause tooth sensitivity after Dental fillings. These include:

  • A change in the bite Sometimes, a filled tooth can end up taller than your other teeth. As a result, it can be painful to close your mouth because of the added pressure on the affected tooth. Biting down can sometimes cause the filling to crack, so it’s best to contact the dentist right away if you notice a problem with your bite. They can help by adjusting the filling for a more natural feeling in the mouth. Often, it isn’t easy to gauge until the anaesthetic wears off, and it’s not until a patient returns home that they realise their bite doesn’t feel quite right.
  • Referred pain It’s also common to feel pain in the teeth nearby due to referred pain, which involves the sensation of pain in an area that is not the source of the pain.
  • Irritated nerve – It’s not unusual for deep Dental fillings to irritate the nerves, resulting in pain and inflammation. Deep Dental fillings can cause uncomfortable sharp sensations as they reach the nerve ends, but fortunately, these can heal over time.
  • Pulpitis – Before carrying our Dental fillings, a dentist removes any decayed material using a drill that releases heat. On rare occasions, the heat can inflame the pulp at the centre of the tooth, causing a condition referred to as pulpitis. If any decayed material gets left behind, it can also cause an infection in the affected tooth’s pulp leading to swollen gums and pus. While reversible pulpitis causes tooth sensitivity after a filling, the good news is that the pulp will heal and get better. However, irreversible pulpitis, where the pulp cannot heal itself, will require root canal treatment.
  • Allergies – Tooth sensitivity after Dental fillings can also result from an allergic reaction to the dental filling material. You may notice irritation or a rash nearby. If you think you may be having an allergic reaction to the filling, then contact your dentist, who can replace the filling with a different material.
  • Multiple tooth surfaces – Two different surfaces in the mouth can also cause pain or sensitivity. For instance, if a tooth has a gold crown and a tooth below or above it has a silver filling, this could cause a strange sensation when the two touch.

How to manage tooth sensitivity after a filling?

Patients can help reduce tooth sensitivity following Dental fillings in several ways:

  • Taking over the counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen
  • Avoiding overly hot or cold food and drinks until the sensitivity subsides
  • Steering clear temporarily of acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits, yoghurt and red wine
  • Being gentle when brushing and flossing their teeth
  • Chewing their food on the opposite side of the mouth away from the filling
  • Changing to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. These oral care products quickly help reduce the pain associated with tooth sensitivity and offer extra protection from the foods and drinks that cause sensitivity.

While we understand that Dental fillings aren’t fun, the benefits far outweigh the minor inconvenience of tooth sensitivity. If a cavity is left untreated, deep decay can spread to the tooth’s roots, which is extremely painful and can lead to tooth loss.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity after a filling, why not arrange a check-up with our friendly, experienced dental team. We can assess and provide a solution for your tooth sensitivity, whether that involves refitting the filling or replacing it with a new one. Get in touch today.