When found early and dealt with quickly, a cavity is no need for concern. A simple routine procedure known as a “dental filling” can be performed during your regular dental appointment to prevent further damage to the tooth. Using a substance known as amalgam or composite, your dentist will fill in the cavity, resealing the tooth and preventing any further decay to the tissue within the affected tooth. 

Despite being a routine treatment, many patients find their teeth sensitive following the procedure. This sensitivity typically fades on its own within a few days or weeks, depending on the cause. Here’s a quick guide on what to do and when to call your dental care team if you experience this common issue following a filling.

What to expect after your filling procedure

Prior to filling a cavity, your dentist will numb the area around the affected tooth or teeth using a general anesthetic. Following the procedure, this numbing will typically wear off within an hour or two. Once the anesthetic wears off, you may notice a few unusual sensations in your mouth, including pain and tenderness to the teeth and gums around the affected tooth. 

This pain is typically most prevalent when breathing in cold air, eating or drinking hot or cold foods or beverages, and when chewing with, brushing or flossing the newly filled tooth. You may also notice pain in the teeth surrounding the affected tooth, known as “referred pain” or when clenching your teeth together.

Causes of pain following fillings

There are a few different reasons you may be experiencing pain following this routine procedure including: 


During the procedure, your dentist will use a dental drill to ensure the complete removal of the decayed tissue from your tooth. As with any other drill, dental drills release heat during use which can cause the connective tissue that forms the center of your tooth, known as pulp, to become inflamed, causing pulpitis. 

Pulpitis can also occur when the decaying tissue is not completely removed from the affected tooth. When this is the case, you will notice swelling of your gums and possibly a pocket of pus forming near the affected tooth. 

Changes to bite

When you hear the word bite, you probably think of “biting” into food; however, in the dental world the term “bite” is used to describe how your teeth fit together in your mouth. Misaligned teeth caused by the filled tooth being taller than the surrounding teeth is the most common cause of sensitivity following a filling. 

When this occurs, it can be painful to close your mouth due to excess pressure caused by the misaligned tooth. If you notice any misalignment in your bite following a filling, contact your dentist immediately to prevent cracking of the filling and any further damage to your tooth.

Allergic Reaction

If this is your very first filling or a filling performed by a new dental team, your sensitivity may be caused by an allergic reaction. Typically, allergic reactions cause sensitivity accompanied by a rash or itching near the affected tooth. If you suspect that you’re having an allergic reaction to the filling, immediately contact your dental team to have it removed and redone with a different material. 

Sensitivity can also occur due to multiple materials being used to repair teeth that are next to one another. For example, a gold crown next to a silver filling. When these two surfaces touch, it may cause an usual sensation due to the different materials used.  

Managing sensitivity

There are relatively simple ways to manage any sensitivity you may be feeling after your filling. These can include:

  • Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Motrin
  • Avoiding hot or cold foods and beverages
  • Avoiding foods and beverages known to be acidic such a yogurt and citrus fruits
  • Being gentle when brushing and flossing
  • Desensitizing toothpaste such as Sensodyne
  • Using the opposite side of your mouth to chew during the healing period

If your sensitivity lasts longer than 4 weeks following the procedure, contact your dental care team to have the affected area examined and the sensitivity taken care of.

Offering friendly service, direct billing to most major insurance companies, and extended weekday hours, the dental care professionals at Brentwood Village Dental Clinic, conveniently located near the University of Calgary, can answer any questions you may have and get you booked in for an appointment. Call us today at 403-210-5050, or toll free at 1-888-978-2853.

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