Why are general dentists important?
If you visit your dentist with a complaint of tooth decay, your dentist is likely to place a tooth filling in your cavity. Dental fillings are dental restorative material that is inserted in your cavity to relieve pain and discomfort and restore the function of your tooth. It is usually expected that discomfort recede after a tooth filling. However, sometimes people may present with a sensitive tooth after filling. 4Smile brings to you everything you need to know about this pesky tooth filling aftermath.
What to expect out of a tooth filling procedure?
A tooth filling is a procedure in which the dentist scoops away at the decayed tooth matter with a dental drill and fills the vacant space with special gold, silver, porcelain, or composite dental material. A tooth-numbing agent may be administered before the start of the procedure. The goal of this simple routine procedure is to preserve the otherwise vulnerable tooth and maintain its complete functionality while also providing top-notch aesthetics.
The patient may also be given stern prompts to be followed after the procedure. They may be advised to lay off eating or drinking for the immediate few hours after the filling to prevent accidental cheek or tongue biting.
Once the anesthesia begins to fade away, the patient may feel some amount of discomfort and puffiness in the skin surrounding the treated tooth. The filled tooth may also exhibit signs of sensitivity for a few days following the procedure but should normally recede in effect.
Why does tooth filling cause sensitivity?
Normally, tooth sensitivity may a few days after tooth filling. However, several reasons may contribute to a prolonged period of tooth hypersensitivity following a tooth restoration procedure.
Pulp is a tissue at the center of a tooth. The inflammation of the pulp is known as pulpitis and can be a culprit of post-filling sensitivity. Pulpitis is one of the leading causes of sensitivity after tooth filling and may occur as an unwarranted side-effect of tooth filling if:
- The dentist has failed to remove all the decaying tissue in the tooth cavity which can lead to the spread of infection involving the pulp
- The tooth has had prior trauma resulting in a cracked or broken tooth
- The tooth cavity was very deep and in close proximity to the pulp layer
- The tooth has had a history of multiple fillings or restorations
- Irritated nerve
The nerve endings in the tooth are protected from exposure by the outer hard layers of the tooth such as the enamel (in the crown) and cementum (in the root). In cases of deep cavities, the filling may irritate the nerve endings leading to uncomfortable sensations including tooth hypersensitivity. This variant of a sensitive tooth after filling is usually short-lived and may relieve itself in a few days or weeks.
- Incorrect bite alignment
Sometimes the tooth filling may be taller than the other teeth resulting in an uncomfortable sensation when colliding with the teeth in the opposite arch. This may cause problems with biting, closing one’s mouth, eating, and most commonly teeth sensitivity. To get rid of a sensitive tooth after filling that has resulted from an improper bite, the dentist must smooth down the high point of the filling and ensure that it properly fits the bite.
- Allergic reaction
Sensitive tooth after filling could be an allergic reaction to the filling materials used during the procedure. Contact your dentist if you are experiencing tooth sensitivity along with the development of rashes, hives, or itchiness nearby.
How to treat a sensitive tooth after filling?
Normal post-filling tooth sensitivity may be relieved by these after-care instructions:
- Using desensitizing toothpaste that contains an ingredient called potassium nitrate (like Sensodyne Rapid Relief Toothpaste) that helps put an end to the sensitivity by preventing the sensations on the tooth surface from reaching the nerve endings inside. Upon application twice a day, it should show effect in a few days.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
- The application of topical numbing ointments that are safe for the mouth.
- Using soft-bristled toothbrush made especially for sensitive teeth.
- Brushing with gentle, circular strokes on the teeth and gums. Avoid harsh scrubbing of the toothbrush on the teeth.
- Temporarily avoiding cold, hot, or acidic foods like citrus and wine that commonly cause tooth sensitivity.
- Flossing gently at least once a day according to recommendations set by the American Dental Association (ADA).
- Avoiding teeth bleaching or whitening products.
- Rinsing your mouth thoroughly after consuming acidic foods.
If the tooth sensitivity has resulted due to problems with the bite, contact your dentist to even out the filling with respect to the neighboring teeth. In case pulpitis has resulted, you may need an extensive root canal therapy to restore your teeth.
Can tooth hypersensitivity be a sign of something else?
Tooth sensitivity may not always be a result of tooth filling. If you experience symptoms of a sensitive tooth after filling has been placed weeks or months ago, any of these could be the reason:
- Tooth abscess
A tooth abscess is a collection of pus that may be formed due to untreated cavity, infection, or an old restorative dental procedure. As a result, you may experience severe toothaches, sensitivity, fever, and a pimple-like bump on your gums. You should visit a dental professional immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
- Broken or loose older fillings
While dental fillings generally last for years, an older filling can become loose, displaced, or broken. This may cause sensitivity, pain, and general discomfort. Even if an old cracked restoration does not cause pain, you should contact your dentist to get it replaced.
- Gum disease
Gum disease or progressive periodontal tissue disease can cause gums to recede below the gum line and expose the tooth root. This can cause sensitivity as the root of teeth does not contain enamel to protect it. Gum disease may manifest as swollen, reddening and bleeding gums, loose teeth, significant bone loss, and even tooth loss.
When to contact the doctor?
Sensitivity from a tooth filling usually goes away within two to four weeks of treatment. You need not be alarmed if a tooth is mildly sensitive in the days following a filling. However, if the use of home remedies and desensitizing toothpaste has done nothing to relieve the pain and discomfort, and if you feel like the symptoms are only getting worse, you should see a doctor immediately.
It might be time to be alarmed if you have, for an extended period of time, been experiencing teeth hypersensitivity along with other associated symptoms like excruciating pain, referred pain to other areas of the face, swelling, fever, hot flashes, and numbness. Get in contact with a dentist through 4Smile in such cases.