Experiencing some sensitivity after having a tooth filled is absolutely normal. After the procedure, you will probably experience sensitivity to hot or cold foods, sweets, air flow, or some pain or discomfort when you bite down on your tooth. This is because the soft tissues of your tooth are exposed when a tooth is being prepared for filling. The use of high-speed drills and lasers to remove tooth decay can cause irritation in the pulp of your tooth.
However, if the pain is intense and lasts for a long time after, you might need to schedule another visit to your dentist. This pain can be a sign of possible complications involving the filling or the tooth itself.
What can cause persistent tooth pain after filling?
Some causes may be an indication of a condition that needs to be treated by your dentist. These include:
Dental filling fails to bond
Before filling a tooth, it needs to be prepared, etched and properly dried. If not, the inside of the tooth can become contaminated with water or saliva. Proper preparation of the tooth is important so the tooth filling bonds properly to the tooth tissue.
Gaps between the tooth and the filling, even one that is hair-like, can allow external stimulations to reach and irritate the tooth pulp, leading to tooth pain. Aside from being a cause for tooth pain, these gaps can lead to the development of new decay and a passageway for bacteria to infect the tooth pulp.
Improper shaping/ smoothing of dental fillings
After filling a tooth, the dental filling needs to be properly shaped and smoothed. If the filling is too large or has sharp edges that weren’t smoothed down, it can lead to irritation and pain in the areas adjacent to the tooth that was filled. This can include adjacent teeth, or gums, especially the area where the crown of the tooth meets the gums.
A high bite is actually one of the most common causes of tooth pain after a tooth filling procedure. Along with the shaping and smoothing of dental filling after a procedure, your dentist will need to drill away any excess filling material to make sure that you can bite down comfortably. This can be a tedious process as the patient will usually not be able to properly tell if their bite is correct because their mouth can be numb due to the anesthesia used for the procedure.
Having a high bite can cause increased tooth sensitivity. When you bite down, the force should be equally distributed among all teeth. However, a high bite causes the force to be concentrated on the filled tooth. It is this excess force that causes tooth pain when you chew or bite down on it.
This happens when two different metals present in your mouth come in contact with each other. An example of this is if you have a new amalgam filling in an existing silver crown. The contact between the two produces a sort of electrical charge that can cause tooth pain similar to pain produced by sensitive teeth. This is called the galvanism effect.
This condition can resolve itself after some time, but if it doesn’t and the pain continues, one of the metal restorations may need to be replaced using a different material.
During the filling procedure of a tooth, the pulp is exposed to some rough treatment and normally causes sensitivity. However, there is a higher risk of severe damage, especially if the damage or the decay is close to the pulp.
If the pulp chamber is accidentally drilled into during the procedure, severe tooth pain can occur. Severe damage to the pulp will most likely lead to the patient needing a root canal in order to stop the tooth pain.
Infected pulp tissue
There are some cases where the dentist was not able to successfully remove all the decayed tissue before filling the tooth. Because bacteria is still present due to the tooth decay, it may reach the tooth pulp and cause it to become infected. This can result in a constant toothache.
The pulp tissue may also have been infected but did not give any indication or symptoms of infection until after a tooth filling procedure.
Tooth pain after a root canal
Experiencing tooth pain after a root canal procedure is normal. This is due to the irritation of the periodontal tissues and nerve endings present in the roots of your tooth. However, if the pain is intense and lasts for more than a few weeks, it might be an indication of root canal failure.
This is one of the rare causes of tooth pain. A toothache, along with a rash or itching may be signs of an allergic reaction to the filling material (like silver amalgam). The solution for these symptoms can be resolved by replacing the silver filling.
A tooth filling procedure is usually the solution to a cavity. However, there are cases when the cavity may be too deep for a filling to be effective. Your dentist may still attempt to fill the tooth, then wait and see if the filling solves any pain or discomfort you may feel. If it does, the filling will be left as is.
A badly decayed tooth may not have enough tooth material left before exposing the nerves of the tooth. It may be filled, but the filling is likely to fall out on its own. In this case, a root canal may be required.