As far as cavities go, tooth pain and sensitivity is the first sign of trouble. A wise person will see the dentist to stop the cavity and the pain from morphing into a new kind of horror show. But what happens when you get the tooth restored with a filling and the pain still lingers weeks after the procedure?
Here is an explanation of why pain and sensitivity can occur before and after you get a filling.
How fillings are used to eliminate tooth pain
Toothaches occur when the nerves and pulp inside a tooth are irritated by exposure to debris and harmful bacteria in a person's mouth. A dentist usually removes the pain by:
- Numbing the tooth
- Removing the decayed part of the tooth
- Clearing debris by irrigating the tooth with pressurized sterile water
- Filling the tooth
Usually, the procedure gets rid of the pain. And yet, some people experience lingering pain long after the tooth has been filled.
What to expect after the filling
For the first hour after a filling is put in, the patient's tooth will be numb. After the anesthetic wears off, the patient may have the following symptoms:
- Sensitivity caused by exposure to air when the mouth is opened
- Sensitivity caused by food or drinks that are hot or cold
- Tender gums and pain in the teeth adjacent to the restored tooth
- Pain due to pressure when chewing, brushing or flossing
When the discomfort lasts more than a few days, it is time to see a dentist.
Why would the pain persist?
1. Improperly fitted fillings
A tooth filling could cause a tooth to become taller than the adjacent teeth. This puts excess pressure on the restored tooth when chewing. The pressure will cause sensitivity and may even fracture the tooth. To correct the malocclusion, a dentist simply has to adjust the filling to the level of the rest of the teeth.
The tooth filling may also come loose because of shrinking or some other cause. This exposes the inner tooth to infection and debris in the mouth, resulting in pain. To fix the tooth, a dentist must redo the filling.
Pulpitis is the inflammation of the tooth's pulp. It could be caused by two things. The first is irritation caused when the dentist uses a drill to remove the decayed part of the tooth. This kind of pulpitis is usually reversible and goes away on its own.
The second cause of pulpitis is more serious. In many cases, it is caused by improper cleaning where some of the decayed tissue is left in the tooth and covered by the filling. Infection soon happens and the gum swells. A pocket of pus may also form at the base of the tooth.
Pulpitis caused by infection is treated by removing the filling, treating the infection and restoring the tooth. If the pulpitis is more severe, a root canal will be done.
3. Reaction to filling material
An allergic reaction to the filling material will manifest with a rash or itching around the site of the filling. The solution is to replace the filling with one made of a different material.
You cannot walk it off
Discomfort after a filling should only last for a few days: Five days is on the higher side. If you are still in pain after a week, see a dentist immediately. Filling are supposed to help you avoid further pain. If you are still in pain after a week, then the first filling is likely defective in some way. Go get a second procedure.