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:
- Do you firmly believe that you suffer from symptoms of mercury toxicity?
- Do you absolutely require having a perfect smile and can’t afford to show any metal when smiling?
- Are you prepared to do a crown or root canal should one or two of your teeth end up requiring one after the replacement?
- Would you be willing to pay for inlays, onlays and other forms of crowns for the larger silver fillings where a white filling is not a recommended replacement? These may cost up to $1,000 per tooth.
- Are your existing silver fillings quite old and most likely due replacement?
- You don’t have very sensitive teeth to begin with correct? “no” means your teeth are indeed very sensitive to hot and cold.
If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you should consider replacing your silver fillings with white ones. If you strongly believe that there are serious health risks associated with having mercury within dental fillings or if you blame them for your health vows then we are not going to dissuade you from having them replaced. We have come across patients that claim their overall health has improved after they replaced their silver fillings with white ones but there is no scientific evidence to support this.
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then you are probably better off leaving the silver fillings alone unless one of them is cracked or has a cavity on it.
The main reason we warn against replacing all of your silver fillings replaced with white ones is because of the high level of risks associated with this treatment. There is always the probability of developing sensitivity and pain which could last for months or may lead up to your teeth requiring crowns and root canals. And no one wants that! Keep in mind that there are still billions of people out there living with silver fillings in their mouthed that do just fine. Of course replacing the silver fillings with white ones will eliminate the risks associated with mercury and may improve your smile a bit as well, but first you have to decide if it is worth the risks to you.
The biggest issue with replacing silver fillings with white ones is the possibility of ending up with sensitivity or pain. But this is more likely to occur when larger fillings are being replaced. Replacing small fillings has little to no risks since these filling don’t sit too close to the tooth nerve and you won’t risk undermining your tooth structure either. So if you have a few small silver fillings left in your mouth then replacing them should be safe and easy and you shouldn’t worry yourself too much over the risks and complications.
What is the best approach to having multiple silver fillings replaced with white ones? It is best to talk to your dentist to start planning this accordingly as it is almost always best to replace only a few fillings at a time. This will ensure that you won’t end up with pain or infections on multiple teeth at the same time. Try starting with the smaller fillings and gradually work your way up to the larger and more risky ones. If you do have dental insurance, try and leave some benefits aside for just in case you do end up needing that dreaded root canal after all. You might even want to consider replacing the silver fillings gradually over the course of one to three years if you are not in any rush.
NEXT >> Replacing All the Silver Fillings
Should I Replace All My Silver Fillings: Leaving The Fillings Alone