Dental fillings are safe and effective, but on some occasions, people may experience discomfort or tooth sensitivity after the procedure.
Here are a few reasons why a patient may experience sensitivity after a filling.
What is a Filling?
A filling is a dental procedure that involves cleaning away any decay from the tooth, usually with a dental drill, and then filling the space with a new material — such as gold, amalgam, a composite, or porcelain.
It’s normal for a patient to feel numbness, tingly, itchy or puffy for several hours after having a filling.
Once the numbing agent has worn off, these feelings will go away. But, in the following days and weeks, a person may notice some new sensations as they adjust to the new filling.
Sensitivity in the filled tooth or area around it is one of the most common occurrences during this time.
Sensitivity Triggers After a Filling
Factors that can trigger tooth sensitivity after a filling include:
- cold foods or drinks, such as ice cream, popsicles, or beverages with ice
- hot drinks, such as coffee or tea
- air hitting the tooth, such as when breathing through the mouth, which may be worse with cold air
- sugary foods, such as candy
- acidic foods and drinks, including fruit, juice, and coffee
- biting down when eating
Why the Sensitivity?
Short-term tooth sensitivity after a filling usually occurs because the filling procedure has aggravated or caused inflammation in the nerve inside the tooth.
Usually, the tooth’s outer layers — the enamel and cementum — protect the nerve from exposure. But fillings, especially deep ones, can get close to the nerve endings and cause irritation and uncomfortable sensations.
As the nerve heals, the sensitivity will go away. This may take a few days or weeks. Once the nerve has healed fully, a person should feel no difference between the filled tooth and the other teeth.
When to Call the Office
If tooth sensitivity does not improve in the days following a filling, it’s time to call our office. It is essential that we rule out other potential causes of sensitivity that may not be related to the filling.