Cavities are a common condition; fortunately, many of them can be fixed with a dental filling. If you’ve ever had a filling, you likely know how simple the process is. Your dentist can perform this operation in less than an hour, and the recovery is quite simple. But many people wonder: Why are my teeth sensitive after a filling?
Your teeth are sensitive after a filling for several reasons. Usually, the nerve is mildly irritated due to the operation, which can cause inflammation. And sometimes, although rarely, you may have a mild reaction to the materials used for the filling.
This sensitivity should go away within a few weeks. If your teeth are still sensitive after this time, you should visit your dentist for a follow-up appointment.
What Exactly Are Dental Fillings?
Imagine your teeth are like a puzzle. Sometimes, a piece of this puzzle can get chipped, diseased, or damaged, leading to a hole in the tooth. A dental filling replaces the missing puzzle piece.
During a filling, your dentist will clear out any of the damaged parts of the tooth before thoroughly cleaning it. Once the area is sterilized and solid, they’ll install a special material—typically a composite resin or porcelain—to replace the missing piece of the puzzle.
You’ll feel some sensitivity in the area for anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. You may experience discomfort as your mouth heals, but it should go away. Then, once you’re fully healed, your tooth should look complete and whole—like the puzzle never lost a piece in the first place.
Why Is My Filling Making My Teeth Sensitive?
Even though the filling process is straightforward, the healing process can have some complications. It may feel like your tooth is tingling or overly sensitive to heat or cold. And you might feel a mild pain now and then.
These feelings are your teeth communicating with you that something’s wrong. Usually, it’s just the tooth reacting to sudden pressure or temperature changes, which can temporarily affect the healing process, often due to:
- Nerve irritation
- A reaction to the filling
- A problem with your bite alignment
Irritation of the Nerve
One of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity—especially after a filling—is nerve irritation. If your filling fixed a cavity, the nerve may have experienced irritation from tooth decay.
Incorrect Bite Alignment
Another common reason for sensitivity after a filling is a problem with your bite alignment. Misalignment can happen when the filling is higher than the surrounding tooth structure, creating an uneven bite.
This unevenness can put extra pressure on the filled tooth when the mouth is closed or during biting and chewing, leading to discomfort or pain. If you believe your filling is too high, you should see your dentist to get it fixed. In extreme cases, a filling that’s too high can crack if too much pressure is put on it.
Reactions to the Filling Material
While it’s rare, some people may react to the materials used in the filling. Then, when their body is healing from the process, they experience inflammation as the body fights the material.
The symptoms of a reaction include:
- A rash in the mouth or lips
- Breathing troubles
- Mild nausea or vomiting
If you experience any of these symptoms after a filling, visit your dentist immediately to resolve the situation.
How Long Should Your Teeth Be Sensitive After a Filling?
Typically, you’ll experience some sensitivity while your tooth heals and adapts to the filling. This can last anywhere between a few days to about 4 weeks. During this time, you might experience:
- Mild pains in the area
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks
- Tingling sensations in the area
- Sensitivity to touch in the area surrounding the tooth
- Mild swelling in the gums around the tooth with the filling
You might notice that breathing in cold air gives you tingles or discomfort. This is perfectly normal—it’s just the tooth reacting to sudden temperature changes.
What to Do About Tooth Sensitivity After a Filling
Any form of sensitivity—especially in the mouth—can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, you can take small steps to reduce sensitivity:
- Avoid overly hot or cold foods
- Regularly brush your teeth 2 times a day for 2 minutes at a time
- Floss, but be extremely gentle in the area around the filling
- Avoid touching, rubbing, or scratching the area to give it time to heal
- Avoid sugars and acidic foods
- Stay hydrated
It can help to use over-the-counter pain relievers if needed. If your dentist gave you any advice for the recovery period, you should follow it to the letter!
If you have sensitivity after a month, contact your dentist and ask for their advice on a quick recovery.
When to Seek Help
If your tooth sensitivity persists for more than a few weeks after a filling, or if the pain is severe, seek professional help. At Ti Dental, we’re dedicated to your well-being. Our team of experienced dentists can assess the situation to see if we can give advice on a smooth healing period. Request an appointment with us today!