There are three common causes of temporary tooth sensitivity after getting fillings, including composite fillings in Red Deer: an irritated nerve; incorrect bite alignment; and pulpitis. (The presence of other pre-existing or co-existing conditions can also cause tooth sensitivity quite apart from the filling procedure itself: tooth abscesses; loose older fillings; and gum disease).
An irritated nerve
In a healthy tooth, the outer layers of enamel and cementum on your teeth protect the nerve inside your tooth from any aggravation or irritation. Depending on the location, size and depth of your cavity, though, filling that cavity may mean your dentist will be working very close to the nerve endings inside your tooth. If that happens, the nerve endings themselves may become irritated and inflamed. An irritated and inflamed nerve can cause uncomfortable sensations, sensations that will disappear as the nerve heals over a matter of several days.
Incorrect bite alignment
Your dentist and the staff at your dental clinic in Red Deer will ensure that the filling placed in your cavity sits no higher than the other surfaces of your healthy tooth. In unusual cases where any filling, including composite fillings near you, sit even a tiny bit higher than the rest of the tooth, you may experience more than the usual minor post-filling pain, sensitivity and pressure when you bite down. Those increased sensations typically dissipate in the days following receiving a filling without any further action being necessary. If you experience severe sensitivity or ongoing problems eating or placing your upper and lower jaw together, get in touch with the staff at a dental clinic near you so they can confirm whether any adjustment is required.
Pulpitis is a condition when the pulp deep inside your tooth becomes inflamed. It does not usually occur during the filling of a minor filling, but it can cause post-filling tooth sensitivity if the tooth suffered trauma in an accident, the cavity was particularly deep or the tooth underwent multiple fillings or other types of dental work.
“Reversible” pulpitis is a mild form of inflammation that will heal on its own as long as the pulp itself is healthy. If the damaged nerve inside your tooth dies, however, a root canal will be required to remove the dying and dead tissue caused by “irreversible pulpitis” and to save the tooth from an extraction.
How to treat a sensitive tooth
The following tips can help ease typical post-filling tooth sensitivity. If your tooth remains distractingly sensitive despite these options, contact a dentist for other options to achieve relief:
- Use desensitizing toothpaste containing potassium nitrate (and a toothbrush designed for sensitive teeth)
- Use over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Brush gently and in a circular motion without any aggressive or back and forth brush strokes
- Pay attention to what foods and drinks cause or worsen your sensitivity, and avoid those items
- Don’s use whitening toothpastes and similar products since they can make sensitivity worse
- Whenever you eat or drink any acidic foods and drinks — fruit and coffee, for example — be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water
- Wait a little while before brushing your teeth after eating and drinking acidic foods and drinks. Brushing your teeth immediately after consuming acidic substances may remove more enamel and expose your teeth to further sensitivity
Experiencing some minor tooth sensitivity after getting a filling is normal and to be expected. Experiencing minor sensitivity is not a reason to call a dentist during your recovery period, but be sure to call your dentist if the sensitivity lasts for a long time, worsens rather than improves, is accompanied by tooth pain or a fever, or interferes with your ability to eat naturally.