After getting a filling put in or replaced in a decayed or damaged tooth, it is common for the tooth to be sensitive; usually after the effect of anesthetic wears off. Your teeth may be sensitive to temperature, sweet or sour foods and air pressure.
There are various explanations for sensitivity around fillings and each of them results form a different cause.
Sensitivity when you bite
The pain occurs when you bite down and is noticed immediately after the anesthesia has worn off and usually continues over time. As the filling interferes with your bite, you’ll be required to have the filling reshaped. You may also need a simple bite adjustment if the tooth is sensitive to biting down you food.
Sensitivity when your teeth touch
Involves a very sharp pain when your teeth touch, probably caused by two different metal surfaces – the silver amalgam in a newly filled tooth and a gold crown on another tooth, coming into contact. The pain is short-term and should resolve on its own within a short period of time.
If the tooth decay is close to the pulp of the tooth, films of bacteria are present in the thin porous dentin between the filling and the tooth. The tooth when being irritated from being worked on contributes to infection on the tooth as well. If the sensitivity persists for several days, it’s an indication that tooth is not healthy and is not recovering from the infection. Such case calls for an immediate root canal treatment.
Referred sensitivity or pain
You may experience pain or sensitivity in other teeth apart from the one that receives the filling. There’s no damage to your teeth, but the filled tooth is passing along pain signals. The discomfort decreases on its own in one or two weeks.
Your dentist may warn you to expect some sensitivity after any tooth has been worked on, especially if there has been tooth decay. Usually, tooth decay causes irritation to the tooth, and working on that tooth irritates it further, to an extent where it develops into a painful sensitivity.
Composite fillings may sometimes give rise to an unusual kind of sensitivity. You do not feel much when you clench your teeth together but will experience a sharp pain when food is chewed. You can try adjusting the bite where the filling was placed, or can choose to replace the filling with another composite filling to eliminate the sensitivity.
There can be other possible causes for sensitivity after new fillings, which can be only discovered by a thorough dental examination.
You may try the following to deal with pain after a filling:
- Stay away from hot, cold or sweet foods that could stimulate sensitive tooth.
- Use special toothpastes containing desensitizing agents to provide relief until the symptoms subside.
- Avoid hard or sticky foods and instead have soft foods that don’t need much chewing.
- Take over the counter pain relievers if you feel increased discomfort.
- Follow a proper oral hygiene (regular brushing and flossing) to keep germs and plaque away, reduce any chances of further tooth decay and keep the mouth healthy.
- Use warm saltwater rinses or clove oil for toothache pain relief.
Despite following the above recommendations, if you still have any kind of discomfort after allowing some time to adjust, it’s recommended that you seek dental treatment from your dentist immediately.