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.