Why Is My Tooth Sensitive After a Filling?
We all get cavities in our teeth. And when a cavity is small it can be repaired with a “filling”. But why is it that after a filling some people experience pain or sensitivity? Is sensitivity after getting a tooth filled normal? How long should the sensitivity last? These are some of the questions we’ll be answering. But first, we need to understand how teeth are built to better understand the cause of sensitivity.
Tooth – Anatomy
Teeth are not made up of bone (contrary to what some people believe). Here we don’t want to talk about the chemical make-up of the tooth. Rather, we want to look at the tooth and all of its layers.
Our teeth are covered on the outermost layer by enamel. Enamel is the hardest material in the human body. Plus it has no nerve endings. This means that if the enamel is damaged it will not cause any sensation. So a patient will not “feel” a cavity that is confined to the enamel. In a sense, the enamel works like body armor (for the tooth). And much like body armor, it can protect the tooth against a number of problems, But it does have its weaknesses. It can be penetrated slowly over time. To learn more about cavities, read our article Most Common Tooth Diseases.
Underneath the enamel layer is the “dentin”. Dentin is not as impervious and strong as the enamel. Plus, it serves as an open communication channel with the nerve deep inside. The innermost layer of the tooth which is the “pulp” houses the nerve and the bloody supply. When the cavity penetrates the enamel all the way and reaches the dentin, that’s when most people start having symptoms like sensitivity to cold or sweets.
Biology of Healing
Our body is great at healing and repairing itself, most of the time. This process always takes time though. Let’s look at when we accidentally scratch our skin or get a cut. It’s painful for sure. We have to clean it and put medication on it and perhaps even a bandaid. But after all of this, the site is still painful. And that’s expected because the wound needs time to heal. The same happens when a tooth has a filling. Even though the decay has been removed, the tooth needs time to completely heal.
Of course, there are times when the healing doesn’t progress as expected. And this can be due to a number of reasons. But you know things aren’t going well if your symptoms don’t get a little better every day. Or worse yet, they start getting worse. Here are some signs you shouldn’t ignore:
- moderate to extreme temperature sensitivity
- difficulty biting down or chewing on the tooth
- gums feeling swollen and red where the filling was done
- pain from the tooth or the jaw
If the nerve inside the tooth is damaged, then a root canal treatment can stop the pain. If the tooth is fractured, then a crown may be necessary. Our dentist is trained in properly diagnosing and treating these types of cases.
Sensitive Tooth? Give us a Call
If you have a sensitive tooth that just won’t go away, contact us now for an appointment.