Why are Teeth Sensitive After a Filling?


While dental fillings are a common, safe and effective tooth restorative treatment, some patients may experience tooth sensitivity or discomfort after the procedure. In most cases, tooth sensitivity dissipates within a few days, but what can cause it to linger?

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity After a Filling

Most often, patients experience post-filling tooth sensitivity once the anesthesia wears off. This is because removing decayed tissue stimulates the tooth nerves, and if your cavity was especially deep or close to the tooth’s nerve, you may experience some discomfort afterward.

You may also feel sensitivity to hot and cold liquids and foods and changes in the air temperature, as well as jaw pain from keeping your mouth open for the procedure. This sensitivity typically subsides over two to four weeks.

But if your tooth still hurts several weeks or months following the dental procedure, you may have one of the following issues and should follow up with your dentist for aftercare:

Allergic Reaction

Discomfort or sensitivity after a filling may be caused by an allergic reaction to the tooth filling materials. While rare, it is more common with amalgam fillings. If this occurs, your dentist will replace the filling with a different material, such as composite resin.

High Filling

A high filling can cause an uneven bite, so it is painful when you bite or chew because you have to push down harder, making your periodontal ligaments tender.

This issue can be easily resolved by your dentist grinding down the filling.


You may have pulpitis if you notice your gums swelling or a pocket of pus near the tooth.

This is caused by the heat generated by the dental drill when removing the decayed portion of your tooth, which inflames the dental pulp. It can also occur if the dentist doesn’t remove all the decayed tissue.

If you have reversible pulpitis, the pulp will heal with a course of antibiotics. However, if you have irreversible pulpitis, you will need a root canal treatment to remove the infected tissue.

Referred Pain

When you experience discomfort in the teeth surrounding the treated tooth, this is called referred pain. It is very common and usually dissipates on its own after a few weeks.


Patients who clench and grind their teeth experience more post-op sensitivity due to stress on the tooth’s nerves. When the tooth is already inflamed from the dental treatment, it will experience additional discomfort from tooth grinding.

Wearing a nightguard can help to reduce the amount of pressure and prolong the life of the restoration.

Tooth Sensitivity Pain Management

To help speed up your recovery and minimize your discomfort following a dental filling, try some of the following tips:

  • For the first 24 hours, apply a cold compress on your cheek for 20-minute intervals
  • Chew on the opposite side of your mouth until the sensitivity subsides
  • Stick to a liquid or soft food diet for 24-48 hours
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Use a desensitizing toothpaste
  • Avoid extremely hot or cold food and beverages for 24-48 hours

Contact Hinsdale Dental

Most of the time, some mild tooth sensitivity is normal and temporary after a filling. However, if you are experiencing a fever, swelling, or redness, contact a dentist at Hinsdale Dental.

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