It is normal for a mild pain to occur several days following a dental filling. It is also common to have tooth sensitivity when the treated tooth is exposed to hot or cold temperatures, air flows, sweets, or pressure. The pain that is often experienced is described as a light to mild throbbing. Until the tooth has healed, it is important to avoid exposing it to stimulants in order to eliminate any pain that it may trigger. Over-the-counter pain medications are rarely needed for treatment, but can be used if necessary.
Tooth pain after dental fillings will usually subside on its own after a few days or a few weeks. Normally, no special treatment is required. However, you should contact your dentist if there is extreme pain or sensitivity that lasts for an extended period of time after the tooth has been filled. A toothache that persists after a dental filling may indicate that there is a problem with the filling or with the tooth.
Cause of Short-Term (Normal) Pain After Filling
While the dental filling is being performed, there is often an irritation of the tooth tissues and gums surrounding it. This is the most common cause for post-operative sensitivity. The high speed drills and lasers that are used during the procedure can cause irritation of the pulp tissues and nerves of the tooth. These drills and lasers are used to remove tooth decay and prepare the surface of the tooth for the placement of the filling. The mechanical nature of the drill and/or the thermal nature of the laser causes this agitation. External stimuli can cause pain or sensitivity in the tooth until the agitated tissues and/or nerves have healed.
The silver amalgam materials of the filling may also cause temporary tooth pain. Because the material is metallic, it can conduct hot and cold temperatures from the mouth environment into the pulp quite easily. This enhances the feeling of sensitivity. Fortunately, tooth-colored composites have become more common and provide with better insulation of the tooth. Because of this, the sensitivity caused by the filling materials is much rarer. If the cause of tooth pain is due to a temporary irritation, then the tooth pain will also be temporary. It should clear up in a few days to a few weeks.
How to Relieve Tooth Pain After Filling
Tooth pain after a filling is usually light to mild, but if it becomes more severe you can always try the following:
• Eat a soft diet. The treated tooth and surrounding tissues will have some degree of irritation. Any foods that are hard or sticky can put the tooth under more pressure, which promotes further irritation of the tooth, and may inflict pain. If possible, avoid chewing on the filled tooth for the first few days following the procedure.
• Take a pain reliever. Although rarely needed, pain killers are an option for increased discomfort.
• Proper oral hygiene. Taking proper steps to ease the irritation of the periodontal tissues is important, and this can be done through oral hygiene. It also ensures that the mouth stays clean and healthy.
• Avoid whatever causes sensitivity. Steer clear of hot foods, cold foods, and/or sweet foods. These can stimulate sensitivity to the tooth and result in tooth pain.
• Use toothpaste made for sensitivity. These special toothpastes contain desensitizing agents that can provide some relief until the pain subsides.
• Home remedies. Warm saltwater gargles or clove oil can be used at home to remedy toothaches associated with the filling.