What Causes Tooth Pain After Filling a Cavity?

Alicia Sparks
Alicia Sparks
Leftover tooth decay is one cause of tooth pain following a filling.
Leftover tooth decay is one cause of tooth pain following a filling.

Several situations can cause tooth pain after filling a cavity, some more serious than others. The most common includes tooth sensitivity, which typically doesn’t require a dentist’s attention unless it persists and gets worse. Other problems with simple solutions include a filling that doesn’t fit properly, is exposed to another kind of filling material, or is made from a material that the patient is allergic to. In these situations, the dentist can repair or replace the filling. If the tooth pain occurs because of continuing decay, though, the dentist might try to remove the remaining decay or perform a root canal.

A cross section of a tooth.
A cross section of a tooth.

A patient can expect a certain amount of pain after getting a filling. Typically, this pain is more similar to tooth sensitivity than to severe dental pain. The tooth might become sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, or the patient might experience tenderness when speaking or biting down. Also, dental work on a tooth with decay can further irritate the tooth and cause sensitivity. Usually, this pain will decrease as time passes, but if it doesn’t decrease or gets worse, the patient should see his dentist again.

A person getting a dental filling.
A person getting a dental filling.

If the patient experiences tooth pain when biting down or chewing food that is more severe, it might mean the new filling doesn’t fit properly. It could also mean the patient has a cracked filling. Sometimes, a patient will experience a sharp pain when he bites down and the new filling touches another dental filling. If the patient experiences any of these kinds of pain, the solution could be as simple as adjusting the shape of the filling or smoothing the edges. In some situations, though, the dentist might need to replace the filling.

Tooth sensitivity can cause tooth pain after filling a cavity.
Tooth sensitivity can cause tooth pain after filling a cavity.

Allergies to the material used are another reason for experiencing tooth pain after getting a filling. The most common dental filling materials used are porcelain; gold; a silver mix consisting of silver, mercury, zinc, tin, and copper; and composite resin, which is tooth-colored plastic and glass materials. To determine whether allergies are causing the tooth pain, the patient can talk with his dentist about the filling material used. If he has an allergy, the dentist can replace the dental filling and the patient can avoid the material in the future.

Tooth sensitivity is the most common form of pain experienced after getting a filling.
Tooth sensitivity is the most common form of pain experienced after getting a filling.

Perhaps one of the most urgent causes of tooth pain after filling a cavity is leftover tooth decay or an infection. A dentist removes the decay before filling a tooth, but sometimes, some decay is left behind. There are also times when the decay is too close to the tooth pulp. When either of these situations happens, the decay can continue to spread under the filling and cause the tooth to hurt or even cause an infection. Depending on the level of decay and proximity to the pulp, the dentist might be able to correct the problem or he might need to perform a root canal and remove the tooth nerve.

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    • Leftover tooth decay is one cause of tooth pain following a filling.
      By: Michael Tieck
      Leftover tooth decay is one cause of tooth pain following a filling.
    • A cross section of a tooth.
      By: Andrea Danti
      A cross section of a tooth.
    • A person getting a dental filling.
      By: nyul
      A person getting a dental filling.
    • Tooth sensitivity can cause tooth pain after filling a cavity.
      By: jirkacafa
      Tooth sensitivity can cause tooth pain after filling a cavity.
    • Tooth sensitivity is the most common form of pain experienced after getting a filling.
      By: Zsolt Bota Finna
      Tooth sensitivity is the most common form of pain experienced after getting a filling.