Are your teeth sensitive after a filling?
Feeling some pain or discomfort after dental work is normal, especially if you have had a deep filling. They generally require your dentist to drill your teeth to remove any decay, which, even with a local anesthetic. This is going to leave your teeth a little sensitive.
Any toothache after filling will likely fade away a few hours after your treatment. But sometimes you may get lasting sensitivity and pain in your tooth when exposed to cold, or it may hurt to chew food after a filling.
Whether you’ve just had a filling and you’re worried that it’s sensitive, or it’s been a few months, and you’re still having issues, this article will discuss everything you need to know, including:
- What is tooth sensitivity?
- Why are teeth sensitive after a filling?
- What can you expect after getting a filling?
- How can you manage teeth sensitivity?
- When should you see a dentist?
Let’s get started so you can find a solution for your sensitive teeth after getting a filling.
Table of contents
What is tooth sensitivity?
Before we discuss why you may experience sensitivity after filling a cavity, let’s go back to basics and discuss teeth sensitivity in general.
Teeth sensitivity is when you experience a toothache or sharp pain in your teeth when they are triggered by something such as consuming hot or cold food and drinks or brushing your teeth.
It can be caused by a few different things, including:
- Thinning enamel
- Cracked or chipped teeth
- Exposed tooth root
- Gum erosion or disease
- Damaged or ill-fitting fillings
- After dental work
Whatever the cause of your teeth sensitivity, it isn’t pleasant, and it can stop you from enjoying some of your favorite things. However, it is important that you know the cause so that you can treat your sensitivity accordingly.
Teeth sensitivity should be mild and temporary, so if it’s causing you intense pain or lasting for long periods of time, you should consult your dentist.
What should you expect after getting a filling?
You may need a dental filling if you have any tooth decay that needs to be repaired to prolong the life of your tooth.
The dentist will numb the area by injecting anesthetic into your gums around the tooth, and sometimes they will use a numbing gel before injecting you. Then they will drill the area to remove all of the decay and then clean and fill the remaining hole.
Once the filling is cured so that it is hard and dry, the dentist will shape and polish the area so that the filling doesn’t feel alien in your mouth.
Afterward, your mouth will probably feel thick and numb while the anesthetic wears off, and you may experience teeth sensitivity as feeling returns to your mouth and gums.
Will your teeth hurt after a filling?
Once the anesthetic wears off, you might notice your teeth feel slightly different, and you may experience some pain. The sensations that you may feel in your mouth can include:
- A dull ache in your teeth and jaw
- Tooth pain after a filling when chewing
- Sharp pain or sensitivity in one or more teeth
- Sensitivity to hot or cold food and drink
If you find any of these symptoms last longer than a few days or the pain is intense, make an appointment to see your dentist immediately.
Why are teeth sensitive after filling?
If your teeth feel sensitive after a filling, don’t worry, it’s not uncommon and completely normal. The discomfort should last only a couple of hours to a few days, but eventually, it will fade away.
This is because getting a filling means your dentist will have to drill away parts of your decayed tooth. Sometimes, if the tooth decay is very shallow, your dentist won’t have to drill too much of your tooth away, but either way, they are still drilling your tooth!
The procedure shouldn’t hurt because your dentist will inject anesthetic into the area to numb it. But once the anesthetic wears off you may find that your tooth hurts after a filling.
The main reason for teeth sensitivity after a filling is inflammation of the nerves inside the tooth. The drilling may irritate the nerve and cause inflammation. If you needed a deep filling, the drilling may have reached the nerve endings. But if this is the case, don’t panic; nerve pain after a filling should heal and disappear over time.
When should you worry about teeth sensitivity after a filling?
In normal cases, most of the pain, toothache and sensitivity that you may feel after getting a dental filling should subside in a few hours or, at most, after a couple of days. If you still have tooth sensitivity months after filling a cavity, then it’s important that you speak to your dentist, as there could be a problem.
It could be that the filling has slightly changed the shape and feel of your bite, which can cause teeth sensitivity. If this is the case, then your dentist can go in and reshape the filling so that your bite returns to its normal position.
Other reasons your teeth may still feel sensitive months down the line could be an allergic reaction to the filling (although very rare), an infection, or cracks and damage to the tooth or filling.
It’s also possible that the filling went too deep into the tooth's pulp and damaged the tissue. To fix this, your dentist will need to perform a root canal.
Whatever the reason, if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort months after getting a filling, then the best thing to do is get an appointment with your dentist.
If you are still not sure whether to be concerned about your filling, check out the following video for a clear explanation of when to seek dental advice after a filling.
How can you manage teeth sensitivity?
Usually, if no underlying issues are causing your teeth sensitivity after a filling, then the pain should fade shortly after. Sometimes you may still have tooth pain weeks after a filling. Don’t worry, though, there are a few ways that you can manage it until you can get a dentist appointment, including:
- Over-the-counter pain relief
- Use products specially designed to reduce teeth sensitivity
- Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing once per day
- Use a manual or electric toothbrush with soft bristles, or one labeled for sensitive teeth
- Brush your teeth in gentle circular motions and avoid aggressive brushing or pushing against the front of your teeth with the brush
- Rinse your mouth after eating or drinking
Although all of these can help you deal with and manage pain and sensitivity, using the right products can help to eliminate it. Some products help to identify, and others remineralize and strengthen your enamel. Let’s jump in with some of our top recommended products to address tooth sensitivity after a filling.
What are the best products to help with sensitivity after a filling?
There are a lot of different products for sensitivity on the market including serums, toothpaste, and mouthwash.
There are plenty of other good products to choose from that use different ingredients to help with sensitivity. You can read our full article on the best sensitive teeth remedies to find out more.
Sensitive teeth after fillings are completely normal unless it goes on for longer than a couple of weeks. If you are experiencing intense pain or tooth sensitivity months after getting a filling, then it is important you consult your dentist immediately.
If you are looking for relief from your tooth sensitivity immediately or while waiting to see your dentist, you can use a few different methods to manage it. Over-the-counter pain relief can help, as well as using a soft-bristled toothbrush alongside sensitive toothpaste.
Make sure you aren’t brushing your teeth too hard, and avoid hot or cold food and drink until you can resolve your teeth sensitivity.
There are plenty of products available to help fight teeth sensitivity, so don’t let it stop you from enjoying the things you love in life.
NCBI. Evaluation of the clinical efficacy of potassium nitrate desensitizing mouthwash and a toothpaste in the treatment of dentinal hypersensitivity. Consulted 12th December 2021.