Tooth feeling sensitive after fillingsSo you had a cavity and your dentist filled it for you, but now your tooth is feeling sensitive?  You’re not alone: sensitivity after a filling is placed this very common and usually not a cause for concern.  After all, your dentist did just remove a portion of your tooth and filled it with a composite (or other) material.  Let’s talk about what you might feel after your fill.

Immediately after your filling: Right after your dentist places a filling you are mostly going to feel numb due to the local anesthetic.  This may last up to a couple of hours after your procedure.

After the numbness wears off: The most common discomfort after a filling is temporary discomfort in the tooth or the surrounding area, often feeling like a shock of cold or pain.  The common triggers for this sensitivity include:

  • Hot or cold food or drinks
  • Acidic foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Contact between the tooth and the air when breathing
  • Biting or chewing movements

But why does your tooth feel sensitive?

Nerve Irritation: The most common cause is the nerve within your tooth being irritated and inflamed.  The process of placing a filling, particularly a deep filling, can cause the nerve to become irritated.  If this is the case, the nerve inflammation and irritation will likely heal on its own within a couple of weeks.

Bite Alignment: in some cases, the filling material may disrupt your natural bite, and the resulting pressure can cause pain and discomfort.  If your bite feels off, give it some time to correct itself.  If it doesn’t or the discomfort becomes significant, your dentist can adjust your bite through contouring the filling and helping you feel more comfortable.

Pulpitis: within your tooth is the dental pulp, which consists of vascular tissues supplying blood, nerves, and connective tissues.  When the pulp becomes inflamed from trauma, dental procedures, or decay, pain, and discomfort are common.  If the pulp remains healthy, then the process of removing the decay from the cavity may help the pulp to heal.  If the pulpitis becomes irreversible due to trauma or bacteria spreading to the nerve, then dental procedures such as a root canal may be required.

Allergic reaction: in some very rare instances the residual discomfort may be caused by the filling material.  This is more common with the amalgam “silver” fillings that have largely been replaced by more advanced composite materials.

How can you help control the sensitivity?

Some discomfort after your filling is normal, but here are some tips on how to deal with lingering discomfort.

  • Avoid food and drinks that are too hot or cold immediately after the procedure
  • You can use over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, particularly immediately after your procedure
  • Avoiding sugary or acidic foods, or rinsing your mouth with water afterward to minimize the effects
  • Stop using tooth whitening products, including whitening toothpaste, that may exacerbate the sensitivity

If your tooth sensitivity does not improve over time or becomes severe, contact your dentist.

The providers at Grant Dental are caring, award-winning dental professionals.  If you have a cavity that needs a feeling, dental sensitivity, or another dental concern in Boise, Meridian, or the greater Treasure Valley, the Grant Dental team can help restore your smile and your oral health – call us today!

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