1. Most minor pain and sensitivity issues resolve automatically without any additional treatment. You leave the dental office all numbed up feeling confident, until the numbness vanishes and the pain or sensitivity starts to kick in. Being slightly sensitive on a tooth is not that uncommon, especially if you received white fillings or multiple fillings in one setting. If you want to expedite the healing process then stick with a soft diet, consider using a desensitizing toothpaste and wait several days to see if your symptoms improve. If the symptoms are improving then continue to monitoring it and allow some more time to see if it disappears altogether. But if the symptoms remain consistent or worsen, then it is time to call your dentist and make a followup appointment.
2. Redoing the entire filling rarely helps and usually only makes matters worse. When a filling ends up being sensitive or painful you may automatically think that it wasn’t done correctly and needs to be redone. And if there is a portion of the filling missing, if it is overfilled or underfilled, then it does need to be repaired or redone. But to take out an entire filling, drill the tooth more and place a whole new filling, it will almost always make the problem worsen. When the filling becomes larger it only gets closer to the tooth nerve and increases your symptoms. So if the filling is not too high nor too low and if it looks good and feels intact, then allow it some time to see if the symptoms improve before deciding to go back to your dentist for what could possibly end up being lots of headaches!
3. You need to gather some relevant information to convey to your dentist to help him or her reach the correct diagnosis. In order for your dentist to fix the problem, he or she must first correctly diagnose the source of pain. A troublesome filling could be fixed either via repairing the filling or it may require a crown or root canal instead. Your pain symptoms, level of pain, aggravating factors, etc. are all hints that help your dentist come to an accurate diagnosis. Allowing some time to determine which tooth is bothering you and what its symptoms are, will help avoid getting unnecessary treatments or fixing the wrong tooth. Try not to panic and wait a while to see what is really going on with the tooth before contacting your dentist. Unless of course the pain is severe and throbbing in which case waiting is not required and you most likely have nerve damage which will in turn require a root canal treatment.
How to Decide
Answer the following questions:
- On a scale of 1 to 10 would you say the pain is greater than an 8?
- Have you taken a painkiller for the pain because it was too painful?
- Does the pain last for more than 5 minutes?
- When you bite down, do you feel that you are hitting a lot more on the new filling?
- Do you feel that the filling is too shallow or hallow?
- Do you feel there is a piece of the filling broken or missing?
- If it has been more than a week, is the pain the same or worse than when you first received the fillings?
If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you should probably consider going back to the dentist for an adjustment to your fillings. Fillings that hurt a lot won’t resolve by themselves. Also if your filling is broken, too high or too low, it will also require further adjustments from the dentist otherwise it may worsen.
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then you are probably a good candidate for waiting a bit longer to see if the pain symptoms improve on its own. Some fillings may be slightly sensitive for a few week or months before the symptoms fully resolve.
Whenever you receive a filling it is not uncommon to experience some tooth sensitivity which may last a short while and usually disappears on its own. If your sensitivity is minor, lasting for only several seconds with low grade pain, then give it some time to see if it resolves automatically. If the pain does not resolve after a few weeks, then go back to your dentist to have it accessed further.
Panicking early on can sometimes cause your dentist to panic as well and perform more aggressive treatments, whereas had you waited for a short while longer the symptoms would have improved and you could’ve avoided an otherwise unnecessary root canal or crown. Use this waiting period wisely to determine the symptoms of your pain so you can better communicate them to your dentist. Try to be as specific as possible, by pointing to the areas of the tooth that cause the most pain, explaining the pain symptoms, describing when the pain or sensitivity is worse, etc. This will really aid your dentist in making the correct diagnosis. Keep in mind that your goal should be to try and get away with a minor repair or adjustment if possible rather than a crown or root canal.
If you present to the dentist with a cracked tooth or a deep cavity that has already encroached on your tooth nerve then you require either a crown or a root canal respectively. If your dentist misdiagnoses the condition and performs a filling instead, this will not help and can actually exacerbate the pain and makes matters worse. The more seasoned dentists are better at identifying these scenarios as they have learned through trial and error when these larger fillings are going to become problematic. But it is impossible to determine for certain if you will have a problem and fact remains that anytime a filling is done it could end up in a root canal.
NEXT >> What to do If You are Having Pain After a Filling: Go to the Dentist
What to do If You are Having Pain After a Filling: Wait a Little First
How to Decide?
Answer the following questions:
- Does the tooth have a root canal?
- Has it only been a few hours or days since you have received the new crown?
- Do you have only mild low grade pain on your crown? “no” means the pain is moderate to severe.
- Does it hurt only for short spurts of a few seconds or minutes at most? “no” means the pain lingers for fifteen minutes or more.
- Does your bite feel even? Meaning that when you bite the crown touches pretty much in line with the other teeth.
- Can you floss the tooth comfortably?
- You haven’t had the need to resort to pain killers just yet? “no” means you have needed pain killers.
If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you are probably okay and should wait to see if the pain improves over the next few days. As long as the pain is improving you can try to hold off and see if it vanishes altogether.
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then you probably need to go and see your dentist. You may need something as simple as a bite adjustment, a new crown, a root canal or even possibly losing the tooth. The sooner you go back to your dentist, the better the outcome. Experiencing minor pain and sensitivity can be normal but if the pain is severe, lingering and throbbing in nature, then there is definitely some sort of nerve involvement it will require a root canal treatment.
We prefer that you give a new crown about a few days, up to a week, to see if you notice any improvements before going back to the dentist for further evaluation. You must realize that once a crown has been cemented in place it can not be simply removed and is most likely stuck in there for good. Make sure to pay careful attention during the crown fitting appointment to ensure that you are happy with the color and looks as well as fit and the bite of the crown as it gets much more difficult to do anything once the work has been completed and the crown has been cemented in place. Certain simple adjustments can still be done inside the mouth, such as adjusting the bite or polishing the crown. But most other adjustments can not be done without redoing the entire crown. If your pain and discomfort is minor then focus on cleaning the region and maintain a soft food diet to allow some additional time to see if the symptoms improve or not.
NEXT >> What to do if You’re Experiencing Pain After a Crown: Go Back to the Dentist
What to do if You’re Experiencing Pain After a Crown: Wait a Little Bit