Tooth sensitivity after a filling is not unusual, but any temporary discomfort is far outweighed by the benefits of dental fillings to your oral health. Fortunately, any discomfort typically subsides quickly, but here’s a look at why you may have tooth sensitivity after your dental fillings—and what you can do to alleviate it.
What causes tooth sensitivity after a filling?
Tooth sensitivity is a sudden feeling of pain or an uncomfortable sensation that you may experience in the filled tooth or the area around it. It may be triggered by:
- The cold air that is coming into contact with the tooth if you breathe in through your mouth
- Hot or cold food and drinks
- Acidic or sugary food and drinks
While it’s natural to experience temporary tooth sensitivity after a filling, prolonged or severe sensitivity may be due to another issue that requires further treatment. Below, we explain some common causes of tooth sensitivity and when you should see a dentist.
Incorrect bite alignment
If a filling is too high, it can cause extra pressure when biting, which results in sensitivity or pain that is more severe than it should be following a filling. A dentist can resolve the problem by reducing the height of the filling so that your bite fits properly and puts an end to the sensitivity.
Dental fillings may cause temporary inflammation of the nerve inside the tooth. The tooth’s harder outer layers protect the nerve, but a deep filling can get close to the nerve endings, causing inflammation and irritation. After a few weeks, the sensitivity usually disappears without treatment once the inflammation settles down and the nerve has healed.
Pulpitis is the inflammation of the soft pulp tissue inside the tooth. It doesn’t usually occur with a minor filling, but if the tooth has had:
- a trauma that has broken or cracked the tooth;
- multiple fillings or other dental procedures;
- a deep cavity
Pulpitis may be a possibility. If the inflammation is mild and the pulp is healthy, the sensitive tooth may heal without treatment. However, if the pulpitis is more severe and has damaged a nerve that has started to die, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.
How do I relieve a sensitive tooth?
Always practice good oral hygiene and minimise tooth sensitivity by avoiding hot and cold food and drinks until the discomfort starts to ease. You can try several techniques to relieve discomfort or pain after dental fillings.
- Switch to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth
- Take over-the-counter pain relief, such as ibuprofen
- Avoid any teeth whitening products that could cause sensitivity
- Gargle twice daily with salt water to help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation
- Take care when drinking or eating acidic beverages and food such as fizzy drinks, wine, and citrus fruits, as, over time, these can remove small amounts of enamel. Try drinking acidic liquids through a straw to avoid contact with the teeth, and rinse your mouth with water after eating acidic foods to balance the acid levels
- Brush the teeth gently with a soft-bristled brush, using small, circular strokes
Don’t put off your dental fillings
It’s understandable to put off having a filling if you have sensitive teeth, but the benefits far outweigh any (usually temporary) discomfort. A tooth filling:
Keep teeth healthy and functional
Tooth decay erodes a tooth and is also likely to cause tooth sensitivity. Your tooth’s function and aesthetics are restored by removing the decayed and damaged part of the tooth and filling the cavity. Additionally, the tooth is protected from further damage that could necessitate more lengthy and expensive treatments, such as a root canal.
Dental fillings can last for 15 years, or even longer, depending on the material. Metal fillings (silver amalgam or gold) are the most effective in terms of longevity, while a composite resin filling should last between 5 and 7 years.
Are available in a variety of materials
Gone are the days when silver amalgam was the only filling material available.
With more people concerned about the cosmetic appearance of their smile, materials such as composite resin and porcelain that can be colour-matched to existing teeth are popular.
Metal fillings, such as gold and amalgam, are still available, and their strength makes them an ideal choice for dental fillings in the molars at the back of the mouth.
Strengthen weak teeth
The last word
There’s usually no need to worry about tooth sensitivity after a filling. The good news is that sensitivity after dental fillings is not unusual and often settles down in its own time without any further treatment. But, if it feels more severe than usual, or hasn’t begun to ease up after a week or so, don’t hesitate to contact Synergy Dental Group on (03) 7003 2185 for further advice.
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