Having a cavity filled is pretty straight-forward. Your dentist numbs your mouth, does some drilling, and inserts the filling material. Afterwards, the numbness wears off, and you won't feel any pain. But what you might experience is a little tooth sensitivity, especially when you eat or drink hot or cold items. Here's what you need to know about that sensitivity.
What causes tooth sensitivity after a filling?
When your dentist drills down into your tooth to remove the decayed material, some nerve endings are exposed. The filling material is then applied, and it may put a different amount of pressure on these nerve endings than what they're used to. This can make them overly sensitive—so they react more than they should when you eat something cold or hot. The process of filling a cavity can also cause the gums to shift slightly, exposing nerve endings on the lower portions of your teeth. Over time, the nerve endings become desensitized and your gums fall back into place, so the sensitivity disappears.
How long will the sensitivity last?
In some patients, the sensitivity lasts a couple of days. Other times, it takes several weeks to fully subside. If it has been three weeks or longer since your tooth was filled and your tooth is still sensitive, contact your dentist. There's a chance you have a bigger issue—like an improperly placed or cracked filling—that's contributing to the issue. Your dentist will check you over to be sure. You might just take longer than others to get over the sensitivity, but it's best to rule out more sinister issues so you don't have to worry.
What can you do to treat and minimize sensitivity after a filling?
If some sensitivity emerges after you have your tooth filled, you don't have to idly wait for it to subside. Here are a few things you can do to stay comfortable and also speed up the recovery process:
- Drink beverages through a straw so they don't come into direct contact with your teeth
- Brush with a softer toothbrush
- Use a sensitivity toothpaste
- Rinse your mouth with salt water once a day (this will help alleviate any gum damage that's contributing to the issue)
If your teeth feel a bit sensitive after having a cavity filled, don't panic. This is entirely normal. Chances are good that within a few days or weeks of following the tips above, you'll be able to drink coffee and eat ice cream again without worry. For more information, consider contacting a dentist like those at Plymouth Valley Dental Group.