Discomfort After a Dental Filling: What Could Be Causing It?

Although receiving a dental filling isn't the most pleasant experience in the world, it's never as bad as you think it's going to be. The method is precise, and you will be given appropriate pain relief before the procedure. There can be some minor discomfort as this pain relief wears off, and there can be a temporary increase in sensitivity in the affected tooth, which becomes most noticeable when consuming food and beverages that are especially hot or cold. But your dental filling shouldn't become more uncomfortable as the days and weeks go by. What could be causing this? And more importantly, how do you fix it?

The Original Procedure

Lingering discomfort after a dental filling (which can escalate to pain) is a clear sign that something has gone amiss with the procedure. There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. The damage to the tooth might have been too extensive to be repaired by a filling. Your dentist applied the filling in good faith, but in some instances, a more extensive restoration (such as a crown) might have been more appropriate.
  2. The tooth already has a filling (or fillings), and the additional, most recent filling is insufficient to restore the structural stability of the tooth. 
  3. The depth of the cavity means that the dental pulp (the nerve inside the tooth) has been breached, possibly by the filling itself.

These issues can lead to pulpitis, which is an inflammation of the dental pulp.

Two Forms of Pulpitis

Pulpitis is divided into two primary categories — reversible and non-reversible. Although additional restoration might be needed to aid reversible pulpitis (along with antibiotics), non-reversible pulpitis results in the death of the dental pulp, in which case a root canal is necessary, followed by restoration work. You certainly won't know what form of pulpitis you might be affected by, and all you know is that you're feeling discomfort, which can be rather painful.

What to Do

When your pain is considerable, then yes, this can justify a visit to the emergency dentist. The state of the tooth needs to be immediately assessed so that preventative measures can be taken. In the case of reversible pulpitis, prompt action is required so that the tooth doesn't decline to the point where the pulpitis is non-reversible. Regardless of the nature of your pulpitis, you will require pain relief beyond what can be purchased over-the-counter.

Pain and discomfort in the days and weeks after a filling has been applied are a sign that you will need additional treatment. And when that pain is significant, then emergency dentistry can be necessary. Reach out to an emergency dentist for more information.