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Tooth sensitivity after a filling

There are many reasons you may require a dental filling:

  • decay (cavity)
  • fractured tooth
  • breakdown of an old silver amalgam filling
  • recurrent decay (cavity) around an old dental filling

I always tell my patients that whenever a tooth is drilled, there is potential for some post operative tooth sensitivity. And the more work the tooth requires, or the deeper the cavity, the greater the degree of tooth sensitivity to be expected.

The range of sensitivity is different for every patient. In a normal small to moderate-sized tooth filling, sensitivity to cold temperatures usually occurs and will subside within a couple of weeks. If the temperature sensitivity persists longer than that, it may be normal for you, but should slowly show signs of improvement over time. When more extensive work has been done, post-treatment sensitivity may persist and the health of the tooth may need to be monitored longer term. Always contact your dental practice if your temperature sensitivity persists for more than a couple of weeks.

Biting sensitivity could be related to the occlusion of your tooth. This means that when the filling was placed, there may be an area that remains “high” or is hitting harder against the opposing tooth. This may not seem like a big issue at first, but the tooth is likely to become sore and very sensitive to chewing after a few days. Do not hesitate to return to your dentist to have this high spot evaluated and adjusted – it is a very quick and easy fix.

In rare cases, post-treatment tooth sensitivity persists regardless of the time that has passed and the adjustments that have been made. This can happen when the cavity was deep and close to the pulp tissue or nerve in the tooth. It can also happen if the tooth has been worked on more than once in its lifetime. Nerves can become irritated and inflamed and may never recover. Root canal treatment may be necessary if the pulp irritation is irreversible or the nerve is dying.

If your symptoms persist, we have numerous ways to test the pulp/nerve of any tooth that remains sensitive. Call us any time for appointments related to your sensitivity!

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