The World Health Organisation confirms that tooth decay and dental cavities are widespread health problems. One of the best ways to treat decay and cavities is with a tooth filling. However, this often leaves one with sensitive teeth after the procedure. Find out more about teeth sensitivity and what you can expect following a filling procedure. Bloom offers advice about this topic including the question about should teeth be sensitive after a filling?
What is a cavity?
Tooth decay relates to the destruction of the tooth’s structure. The decay affects the outer coating of the tooth called the enamel as well as the dentin layer of the tooth. Decay happens when food, like carbohydrate sugars or starch, is left on the teeth. This turns into acid and combines with saliva and bacteria to form plaque. Acids in plaque attach to the teeth and begin to dissolve the tooth enamel, resulting in dental cavities.
Why do we need to have fillings?
A tooth filling is a dental procedure that involves filling a cavity, or hole, that is in a tooth. Cavities are caused by tooth decay, which occurs when bacteria in your mouth produce acid that erodes the tooth enamel. If left untreated, cavities can become larger and deeper, reaching the inner layers of the tooth, which can lead to painful infections.
Tooth fillings will restore a tooth that has been damaged by decay. The filling involves the removal of the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth and then filling the space with a dental material, like composite resin, ceramic or amalgam. The result is a tooth that is restored in shape, function and strength. The filling also prevents further damage or decay. On some occasions, fillings are used to repair teeth that have been cracked or chipped.
The filling procedure
Should teeth be sensitive after a filling? Every filling procedure is unique, which means the outcome will vary depending on things like the filling material used and the complexity of the cavity being repaired. However, the process is quite similar and should follow these typical steps:
- Numb the area. The dentist will numb the area around the tooth with a local anaesthetic. This will prevent pain or discomfort during the procedure.
- Removal of decay. The dentist will use a drill or air abrasion to clean out and remove the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth. This will leave a hole that can be filled.
- Cleaning out the cavity. Once all the decay is removed, the dentist will thoroughly clean out the cavity to make sure there is no bacteria or debris left, which could cause infection.
- Filling the cavity. The dentist will prepare the dental material needed to fill the cavity. He or she will then apply the material, in layers, into the cavity and shape it to match the contours of the tooth.
- Adjusting the bite. Once the filling is in place and has dried, the dentist will check to see if your bite is even and comfortable. They might make some adjustments to improve the fit.
- Polishing the filling. The dentist will apply a polished finish to give the filling a smooth appearance.
Why should teeth be sensitive after a filling: what’s normal?
It’s not uncommon, after a tooth filling, to experience a degree of tooth sensitivity around the affected tooth or even the surrounding teeth. This sensitivity can be caused by the following:
- Filling material. Some types of dental material, like composite resins, can cause sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures for a short time after the procedure.
- Nerve irritation. During the filling, the dentist may remove a small amount of tooth debris near the nerve, which will irritate the area for a short time.
- Temporary fillings. Sometimes, you may receive a temporary filling before the final one is applied. This type of filling does not offer the same type of protection and insulation as a permanent filling and can cause sensitivity to temperature change or pressure.
It’s normal to feel some sensitivity after a tooth filling. This is a temporary feeling and will resolve itself in a few days. However, if the teeth sensitivity should persist or become painful after a few weeks, it’s advisable to contact your dentist and make an appointment to rule out any dental complications or underlying dental problems that may have developed. Should teeth be sensitive after a filling for weeks or months? Absolutely not. So make sure you go to your dentist to alleviate your discomfort.
Things that cause teeth sensitivities
Teeth sensitivity is quite common. It occurs during common dental procedures, like tooth filling or root canal treatment. It can also be caused when your teeth are exposed to certain stimuli, like hot or cold temperatures, or sweet or acidic food. Some of the other causes of teeth sensitivity include the following:
- Gum recession. As the gums pull away from your teeth, the root surface becomes exposed. This is usually caused by old age or brushing one’s teeth too hard.
- Enamel erosion. As the tooth enamel is broken down, the underlying dentin is exposed, causing sensitivity.
- Teeth grinding. Chronic grinding of one’s teeth can cause the enamel to wear away.
- Teeth whitening. Some types of teeth whitening treatments can be very abrasive, causing temporary teeth sensitivity.
- Acidic food and drinks. Certain types of food, like citrus or vinegar, are known to cause sensitivity.
Inflammatory conditions, like gingivitis, can cause sensitivity as it causes gum recession.
Cures and remedies for sensitive teeth
If you are experiencing any discomfort from teeth sensitivity, there are a number of remedies you can apply. Try some of the following to alleviate your symptoms:
- Use desensitising toothpaste.
- Fluoride treatments. This will help strengthen the enamel on your teeth.
- Dental procedures, like fillings, crowns and root canals will treat the underlying problem.
- Avoid trigger food and drinks. Typically acidic food can exacerbate the problem.
- Change your brushing technique. There’s a chance that you may be brushing too hard. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid aggressive brushing.
- Dental sealants. This provides a barrier against sensitivity-causing stimuli.
Healthcare cover with dental benefits
Should teeth be sensitive after filling? Yes, it’s quite natural to experience some degree of sensitivity. However, speak to your dentist if you’re experiencing chronic teeth sensitivity following a tooth filling or dental procedure. It’s best to determine the underlying reason for the discomfort in order to alleviate the problem. You may need to consider changes to your diet, teeth-brushing technique or oral hygiene. You may even need to have a dental procedure. Contact one of our trained consultants to discuss your options for an affordable healthcare plan that comes with comprehensive dental benefits.
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