Tooth Sensitivity After Cavity Filling

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Tooth sensitivity can happen to anyone after a cavity filling. And, while it’s common, it’s still irritating. There are several reasons why you may experience some sensitivity (even pain) after your dentist fills your tooth. In most cases, the sensitivity is temporary and goes away. However, there are times when your dentist will need to perform a correction to eliminate this sensitivity.

Symptoms of Tooth Sensitivity

Before a cavity filling, dentists usually numb the area of your mouth around your affected tooth. During the first couple hours after your dentist does this, you will probably feel nothing. But, once this numb sensation begins wearing off, you may begin noticing some tooth sensitivity symptoms such as:

  • Tooth pain, particularly when you drink or eat cold or hot liquids or foods or breathe in cold air

  • Tooth pain surrounding the filling

  • Gum tenderness

  • Pain when you clench your teeth

  • Tooth pain when you brush, floss or eat

Why You Will Have Tooth Sensitivity After a Cavity Filling

Cavities are commonly treated with dental fillings. Your dentist will fill the holes of your decaying tooth with a substance like composite or amalgam. Although this is usually a routine and simple procedure, some people end up with sensitive teeth afterward. The sensitivity usually goes away by itself anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on what’s causing it.

Tooth sensitivity that isn’t temporary and doesn’t go away by itself is usually due to something else causing it such as:

Filling Not Positioned Correctly

If after a few days your pain and sensitivity persist, it could be a problem with your tooth or the filling itself. For instance, if your filling isn’t positioned correctly it could interfere with your bite such as in the case of malocclusion — a filling that’s too high preventing the proper fit of your teeth when you bite down.

Type of Filling

Sometimes the type of filling used can cause tooth discomfort or sensitivity. Composite resin material is a good example and often causes sensitivity.


Your dentist drills away the decaying part of your tooth before they fill the cavity. The drill releases heat and vibration which inflames the connective tissue in the center of your teeth known as the pulp. When this happens, it causes pulpitis — swelling of the pulpal tissue.

Multiple Types of Tooth Surfaces

For instance, if one tooth has a silver filling and another tooth has a gold crown, you may feel tooth sensitivity as a result of different types of teeth surfaces.

Best Methods to Treat Tooth Sensitivity

There are ways to reduce your risk of tooth sensitivity or pain after you have a cavity filled. For instance, you can:

  • Avoid common triggers of sensitive teeth like cold or hot foods.

  • Use a toothpaste made for tooth sensitivity.

  • Use a mouthwash designed for tooth sensitivity.

  • Eat fruits, vegetables and dairy, which can ease tooth sensitivity and improve dental health.

Your dentist may recommend sealants, fluoride gel or a better filling for covering exposed roots. In some cases, you may require a combination of treatments to achieve good results.

After your dentist places fillings in your teeth, pay attention to your bite. If your filling is too high or big, it could result in an abnormal bite causing lingering tooth sensitivity. Your dentist can fix this problem quickly.

If your filling cracks (usually a result of biting down on something hard), it can cause pain and sensitivity in your tooth. Your dentist can quickly repair this problem as well.

It’s not unheard of for patients to experience sensitivity or pain in their teeth weeks or months after a filling. So, be sure to report any symptoms to your dentist so they can exam your teeth and correct the problem to relieve your discomfort. However, if you experience tooth sensitivity after a filling that is accompanied by a rash or itching, contact your dentist right away, as you may have had an allergic reaction to a material used in the dental filling process.


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