Is Your Discomfort After A Filling Normal?

If you've never gotten a dental filling, it's quite common to have some temporary discomfort and sensitivity after the procedure. Any soreness you have should fade within a few days; if you are experiencing an aching tooth or soreness for a lengthier period, you should reach out to your dentist for a follow-up appointment. Here are four reasons why you may have some extended discomfort after a filling procedure.

Referred Pain from Trismus

Some patients may think they have a toothache when they actually have trismus. Trismus causes stiff, inflamed jaw muscles and joints; patients can develop trismus from holding their mouth open for extended periods of time during a procedure. People with TMJ disorders can be prone to developing this issue. And while tooth discomfort should fade in a few days, some people may experience trismus for a few weeks. Your dentist may recommend over-the-counter pain medications, hot/cold therapy, and stretches to reduce discomfort. Your dentist might also recommend Botox therapy to reduce muscle spasms.

Occlusal Interference

After you get a filling or a crown, your dentist will have you tap your top and bottom teeth together on articulating paper. This paper highlights areas where cusps and other tooth anatomy need to be sculpted so that both upper and lower occlusal surfaces fit together nicely. However, since patients are numb from local anesthetic during a filling procedure, they may not bite down on the articulating paper like they normally would, so they may not notice excess filling material or bite discrepancies until after the appointment. Thankfully, this is an easy fix—you just need to visit your dentist again and they can reshape the current filling.

Material Expansion

Enamel can expand and contract when it comes in contact with hold or cold foods/liquids. Since restorative materials, like fillings, can also expand and contract. While restorative materials are strong, they aren't as strong as your enamel, so some patients may experience sensitivity due to this expansion/contraction. To avoid this issue, you may want to opt for composite resin compared to amalgam, since metals may expand/contract more. If you have gaps from contraction, your dentist can fill in these spaces to further protect the tooth and reduce your symptoms.

Damaged Pulp that Needs to Be Treated

When cavities are caught early enough, your dentist can place fillings to prevent further decay and prevent damage to the inner pulp. However, if a patient doesn't maintain good oral hygiene or has bad habits that damage the filling (e.g. chewing on ice), then the restoration can develop microfractures and bacteria can get underneath the filling. If this type of damage is caught early, your dentist might be able to repair the current filling or use an inlay/onlay. If bacteria have penetrated the pulp, then your dentist might recommend endodontic therapy before placing a restoration, like a crown, over the tooth.

Reach out to a local dentist today for more details.