Filling a cavity is supposed to stop tooth pain, right? But what if you are still experiencing sensitivity after your treatment? Sensitivity is a common side effect of dental fillings that typically alleviates quickly after the procedure.

Extreme discomfort is not normal and needs to be addressed by a dental professional promptly. Call your dental provider immediately if you are experiencing severe pain accompanied by fever or swelling after a dental filling treatment. 

Dental Fillings 101

Dental fillings are one of the most common procedures in dentistry. In this routine treatment, the dentist will inject an anesthetic near the tooth to numb the area. Then, the dentist will use a dental drill to remove any decay present in the area and fill in the carved-out space with a dental restoration material. Fillings can be made of gold, porcelain, amalgam (silver), or tooth-colored composite resin depending on the patient’s budget and aesthetic desires.

Sensitivity After a Filling

It is common for patients to experience some sensitivity in the area once the anesthetic that was applied before the filling wears off. The sensation is typically described as a sudden rush of pain or cold that subsides quickly. Certain environmental factors are known to trigger or heighten the tooth’s sensitivity.

Common Tooth Sensitivity Triggers

  • Hot, cold, acidic, or sugary foods and beverages
  • Cold air or wind
  • Pressure from biting down or eating

Severe pain is not a typical side effect of dental fillings. If your pain is interfering with your daily life, do not suffer silently. Your pain could be a symptom of a serious condition that needs to be addressed by a dental professional.

Although uncommon, extreme discomfort after a filling could be an indication of the following conditions: 

Irritated Nerve 

A nerve resides in each root of a tooth (unless you had a root canal treatment, which removes the nerves from an infected tooth). Tooth nerves are protected by the hard outer layers of the tooth. However, it is possible for tooth nerves to become irritated or inflamed during filling treatments. This sensitivity will subside as the nerve heals from the trauma. It can take a few days or weeks before the nerve returns completely back to normal.

Incorrect Bite Alignment 

Although dentists do their best to make the filling mimic the patient’s natural tooth structure, sometimes the restoration is slightly taller. This extra height isn’t obvious to the naked eye but is significant enough to put additional pressure on the teeth when biting down. The sensitivity caused by the changed bite alignment is typically more intense than general post-filling discomfort.

Patients who are experiencing discomfort while biting down or chewing should contact their dental provider to have their bite examined. Shaving down the high point of the filling alleviates pain for most patients.


Pulpitis is a condition that causes inflammation deep within the pulp of a tooth. Although pulpitis rarely occurs after a routine filling, it can happen. A root canal or tooth extraction are common treatments for this condition.

Pulpitis typically occurs when:

  • The tooth is severely damaged from trauma
  • The cavity spread to the inner pulp
  • The tooth has had multiple restorative treatment

Allergic Reaction

On rare occasions, patients have allergic reactions to filling material. One study found that amalgam material is the most common cause of allergic reactions from fillings. However, patients can react to other materials used in the treatment, such as the latex in the dentist’s gloves.

When to Call Your Dentists

Mild sensitivity a few days after a filling treatment is very common. You can often alleviate minor discomfort with over-the-counter medication, home remedies, or desensitizing toothpaste. If your pain interferes with your daily routine, contact your dental provider immediately for guidance.

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