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  • Writer's pictureChris Salierno, DDS

Why does my filling hurt?

Sometimes a tooth can feel discomfort after a filling has been done. Let's discuss the reasons why. If you're feeling severe pain, please call your dentist right away!

(1) The tooth just needs time to heal

If you're feeling some sensitivity a couple of days after the filling was done, this may actually be normal. The nerve inside the tooth can get a little upset when the tooth is being cleaned out and when the filling is being placed. Sensitivity to cold or a mild, vague discomfort is not uncommon. As long as the discomfort isn't severe, there shouldn't be any harm in waiting a few days to see if the tooth gets better. If you notice improvement each day, that's a good sign! If it's not totally better after a week or so, you should call your dentist and discuss next steps.

(2) The filling is too tall

When your dentist places your filling, they will check your bite to make sure that they didn't place too much filling material. But sometimes the filling will accidentally be made too tall despite our best efforts. Now every time you bite, you hit that tooth just a little bit more than the rest. You may notice the high spot right away or the high spot may be so tiny that you don't even notice it. If you notice the high spot, call your dentist and he/she can quickly adjust it. If you don't notice it, then after a few days that extra biting force will start to cause some discomfort in your tooth, typically cold sensitivity and/or soreness when biting. The good news is that this is an easy fix! Your dentist will adjust the bite and your tooth will start to feel better after a couple of days.

(3) The filling is deep

Sometimes a dentist has to remove a lot of tooth structure to clean out the cavity or to clean out an older filling that was there. If the dentist gets close to the nerve of the tooth then it can take some time for the nerve to heal. You may feel cold sensitivity or mild, vague discomfort. As long as the tooth feels better each day, you can give it time to heal. But if the pain is severe or if it stops getting better, call your dentist to discuss next steps.

(4) Other problems with the tooth

There are other reasons a tooth can be sensitive after a filling was done. One possibility is that there is a problem with the filling itself. There could be a gap or air bubble underneath the filling, or the filling could be breaking down for some reason. Another possibility is that the tooth could still be damaged, such as a deeper crack in the tooth that still must be treated. Again, your dentist can help troubleshoot these problems with you.


Disclaimer: ToothQuest is for informational purposes only and is not to be taken as dental, medical, or legal advice.  Please consult with your dentist or other appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions that would affect your health.

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