The 10 Causes Of Persistent Tooth Pain After Filling

The 10 Causes Of Persistent Tooth Pain After Filling

Experiencing some sensitivity after having a tooth filled is absolutely normal. Following the procedure, you may experience some 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.

This pain or discomfort should go away on its own within several days or 1-2 weeks after having the filling procedure.

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. In today’s article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at the 10 major causes of persistent tooth pain and following this we’ll give you a few tips and tricks to manage this pain until you can get to your dental appointment for professional advice. Without further ado, let’s discuss persistent tooth pain after a filling!

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

The 10 Causes Of Persistent Tooth Pain After Filling
usushiorei / Pixabay

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.

Improper shaping/ smoothing of dental fillings can cause certain areas of your teeth to become difficult to clean and can lead to the development of decay, another cause of a toothache.

Incorrect bite

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.

Oral galvanism

The 10 Causes Of Persistent Tooth Pain After Filling
jarmoluk / Pixabay

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.

Damaged pulp

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 canalThe 10 Causes Of Persistent Tooth Pain After Filling

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.

Allergic reaction

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.

Irreversible Pulpitis

Symptoms of this condition include sensitivity to hot and cold foods, sweets, as well as swelling and prolonged pain. This type of tooth pain radiates from the affected tooth.

Ultimately, this condition ends with the death of the tooth pulp. When the tooth pulp finally dies, a visit to your dentist for a tooth extraction will be necessary.

The 10 Causes Of Persistent Tooth Pain After FillingDeep Cavity

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

          ” A badly decayed tooth may not have enough tooth material left.”

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.

Toothache remediation as recommended by Dental professionals

There are a number of things that dentists recommend for a toothache after a filling as a temporary fix until you can get to your dental appointment. Some ways that you can help to reduce the pain of a toothache are as follows:

  • Adjust your pillows at night – The elevation of your head can play a part in tooth pain. Depending on how your pillows are arranged, you might be increasing the blood flow to your head. This can make what was previously a minor amount of tooth pain into the kind of pain that prevents good rest. So adjust your pillows to try some different positions to help yourself to get sleep until you can go to see your dentist.
  • Avoid foods that are too hot or cold – After a filling you will want to start avoiding foods that are too hot or too cold. Depending on the type of filling, the cold or the heat can be conducted and this results in a sudden ache. So be careful what you eat or drink following your filling to avoid any painful surprises!
  • Invest in an ice pack – A good, old fashioned ice pack can give you some temporary relief while you are waiting for your scheduled day to see the dentist. It’s a good idea to get two of them so that one is always in a freezer while you are using the other, just in case you need it.
  • Over the counter medications can help – Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers such as Ibuprofen are good to keep around the house. Orajel is nice as well, as you can apply it directly to the affected area for some soothing, numbing relief.
  • A salt water rinse is a good idea – A salt water rinse can help to kill bad bacteria and can pull up some of the fluid which is causing swelling in your gums. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a small glass of water and rinse with this for 30 seconds, 2 -3 times per day for best results.
  • Toothpaste for sensitive teeth might be in order – Some dentists recommend using toothpaste for sensitive teeth during your recovery from a visit. Do you find your gums a little irritated sometimes after you brush lately even though you replace your toothbrush frequently? If so, you might just be sensitive to the mint additives of your toothpaste and a change to a sensitive brand might help until you are fully healed up from your filling procedure.

Some classic home remedies that you can employ

A lot of ‘old timey’ toothache cures are still shared today because they actually pretty useful. We’ve taken the liberty of compiling a few for you so that you can use them in a pinch if you find that you cannot visit the dentist right away after already taking a day off to get that filling. Two home pain remedies that work very well are as follows:

  • Cayenne cotton ball – A few drops of cayenne pepper hot sauce on a cotton ball can help. Bite down on the cotton ball or simply use it to rub the affected area. The capsaicin in the peppers will excite your nerves and nullify the pain.
  • Clove oil – A few drops of clove oil will do in a pinch but it has a very strong flavor. Just apply it to a cotton ball like with the cayenne but keep it between teeth and gums for about 5 minutes and you should start feeling a little numbness. Limit use of this to 2-3 times per day as it may otherwise upset your stomach.
The 10 Causes Of Persistent Tooth Pain After Filling
voltamax / Pixabay


Preventative maintenance

Prevention is always better than having to find a cure. With that in mind, there are a few things which you can do in order to help to minimize those visits for fillings. Make sure that you add are doing the following:

  • Proper brushing technique – Make sure that your toothbrush is held at a 45 degree angle. Use small circles when brushing and don’t let your toothbrush bristles get too stiff. Replace it every 3 months and you should be okay.
  • Proper flossing – Proper flossing is time consuming but well worth it. Pieces of food that get caught in your teeth can make hard-to-reach cavities that can be problematical to both you and your dentist. To help avoid this, draw out an ample amount of floss and knot your fingers in both sides. Make a U-shaped loop so that the floss is on both sides of each tooth and floss slowly and carefully, replacing the floss often to keep it fresh. .
  • Friendly foods – Fibrous foods like carrots and apples can actually brush your teeth as you chew! Try to eat them raw, as dipping sauces or added sweeteners will defeat the purpose.

Some final words

In this article we have discussed the 10 primary causes of persistent tooth pain after a filling, as well as some things that you can do to deal with the pain and some preventative measures you can take to avoid more fillings. Please keep in mind that persistent pain is a symptom and these tips should be used only as a temporary crutch to get you through until your dental appointment. So if you haven’t scheduled that then please, call your dentist now!

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