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Is It Normal For Your Tooth To Be Sensitive After A Filling?

by Andre Daniels

You return home from your dentist appointment, and wait an hour or two for the numbness to wear off. Once you can feel your cheeks again, you're delighted to finally sip a cup of coffee without having it run embarrassingly down your face. There's just one problem – when the warm liquid hits the tooth you just had filled, a painful sensation shoots down into your jaw. Is this normal, or should you rush back to the dentist?

In most cases, the answer is "yes." Tooth sensitivity after having a cavity filled is pretty common and is really no reason to worry. Sensitivity is most common with composite fillings, but can occur with amalgam and ceramic fillings, too:

How long will the sensitivity last?

Most patients find that their tooth sensitivity goes away within a week or two of having their tooth filled. Sometimes the sensitivity slowly diminishes, and other times it will disappear all at once. Sensitivity symptoms vary between patients. Some experience a dull ache when their tooth is exposed to heat or cold, while others have sharper pains. Teeth are not always sensitive to heat and cold, either – sometimes it's just one or the other.

How should you treat and manage the sensitivity?

In the weeks after having a filling, you can ride the sensitivity out by simply avoiding foods and beverages that cause discomfort. Ask for your drinks without ice, and let hot foods cool to room temperature before eating them.

You can try using a tooth sensitivity toothpaste to diminish your reaction. However, these don't tend to be as effective for tooth sensitivity following a dental filling as they are for sensitivity caused by receding gums or weak enamel.

When is sensitivity a sign of a major problem?

There are some rare cases in which tooth sensitivity after a filling does indicate a bigger problem. If you experience any of the following, call your dentist:

  • Severe pain that lasts for more than a few minutes after you eat or drink something hot or cold.
  • Sensitivity that lasts more than a few weeks and does not seem to be diminishing with time.
  • Sensitivity accompanied by swelling or redness of the gums
  • Fever or the chills

The above symptoms may indicate that you are developing a tooth infection that will require professional treatment. Your dentist will evaluate you to determine whether this is the case, or whether you are just having a stronger-than-usual reaction to your new filling. Generally, however, mild to moderate tooth sensitivity after a filling is no reason to worry. You might have to forgo your morning coffee for a while, but you long-term health is not at risk.

To learn more, contact a company like Downtown Dental with any questions you have.