tooth pain after filling

How to Get Relief from Tooth Pain After Filling a Cavity

Few things in the world are as difficult to deal with as tooth pain. Tooth pain after filling a cavity can be especially frustrating. You went to the dentist looking for relief, and sometimes, you end up leaving in more pain than you had when you came to the dentist in the first place! On the bright side, we have plenty of tips and tricks that will show you how to relieve tooth pain today.

The Pain May Be Normal

The first thing you’ll want to consider if you’re dealing with a toothache after filling a cavity is the fact that the pain you’re experiencing may be completely normal. Certain types of pain are to be expected. For example, your mouth may be sore for a period after your filling from the novocaine needle.

Or, if you have a cavity towards the back of your mouth, you may experience some jaw pain after filling because of the fact your mouth was held open for an extended period so the dentist could work on the affected area.

If you’re still experiencing tooth pain after filling a cavity several days ago, then it might be time to speak with your dentist again. Pain for a day or two, however, is completely normal.

Types of Tooth Pain

When it comes to tooth pain, it can be helpful to identify what type of pain you’re experiencing. Knowing what kind of pain you're in makes communicating with your dentist much easier, and it will help them provide the best treatment for you moving forward.

Pain When You Bite Down

If you’re experiencing pain when you bite down, this may be evidence that your bite is off. Once your dentist is finished filling your cavity, they use a tool to grind away any excess filling material until you’re able to bite down as you always have comfortably. For the patient, it can sometimes be very difficult to identify if your bite is right immediately after a procedure since your mouth is numb.

Pain when biting down can be a symptom of other dental issues that are unrelated to a recent filling. In this case, it may indicate that you’re dealing with a cracked tooth. If the pain you experience is completely localized to when you bite down or eat food, it’s safe to say you may be dealing with a cracked tooth.

Your dentist will usually be able to evaluate whether a cracked tooth is the cause of your problem thanks to a device called a “tooth slooth”. Pain when biting down also may be caused by tooth decay in general. In any event, it calls for a trip to the dentist so you can make sure you aren’t dealing with a more serious issue.

Sensitivity

Another symptom you may be experiencing is sensitivity after filling a cavity. Typically, you’ll experience sensitivity when your tooth is exposed to hot or cold temperatures. In more serious cases, your tooth may be sensitive to any outside stimulus, like the air for example.

For most patients, a little sensitivity is completely normal after they’ve had a cavity filled. Usually, the teeth will become slightly less sensitive day after day, until the tooth is fully repaired and the sensitivity disappears completely.

Constant, Throbbing Pain

Constant, throbbing pain is among the most severe types of tooth pain one can experience, especially after a filling. Still, considering the trauma your tooth has just dealt with in the process of having a cavity filled, it may not necessarily be a cause for alarm.

If you’re dealing with constant, throbbing pain, your best course of action is to try and remedy the situation as best you can and take a “wait and see approach.” If your tooth pain isn’t markedly better after a day or so, you should contact your dentist and make an appointment to have your tooth looked at.

Referred Pain

This type of pain can be the most difficult to diagnose and understand. With referred dental pain, the patient experiences pain in an area of their mouth that isn’t the root cause of the pain.

This is because several nerves can all converge together as they lead up to your brain. Since all these nerves are all going to the same place, your brain can sometimes be “fooled” into feeling pain in one spot, even though the root cause of the pain is in a completely different spot.

Fortunately, the spot where you’re experiencing the pain can often clue a dentist into where the pain is coming from. In this case, a trip to the dentist is probably to get a better idea of where the pain is coming from.

Causes of Tooth Pain After Filling a Cavity

Your tooth hurts after filling a cavity? You’re in the right place. Let’s take a closer look at some of the different causes of tooth pain after filling a cavity and see what’s good for teeth pain.

High Bite

Probably the most notorious cause of tooth pain after filling a cavity is a high bite. When it comes to a cavity, your dentist will fill the hole in the decayed tooth with a material, usually amalgam, a polymer, ceramic or gold.

Once the filing has cured (hardened) the dentist will then begin slowly drilling away any excess filling material so the patient can bite down comfortably again. Getting the bite correct can be a tedious process, especially because the patient is often unable to effectively indicate whether their bite feels correct since their mouth is numb from the procedure.

As a result, it’s not uncommon for the patient to have a high bite after having a cavity filled. A high bite can lead to increased tooth sensitivity after filling a cavity whenever the patient bites down. Fortunately, this problem is very easy to remedy. If you’ve had a cavity filled and find that your bite is too high, your dentist will be able to drill away any high spots in the filling and have you back to normal in one quick visit.

Reversible Pulpitis

If you have sensitive teeth after filling a cavity, pulpitis may be to blame. Pulpitis may sound like fancy terminology, but it’s actually just the medical term for tooth sensitivity. Inside of our teeth, there are nerves, blood vessels and cells and they're known as pulp. When tooth pulp becomes inflamed, this can lead to pain and especially sensitivity in the area.

Reversible pulpitis is typically characterized by mild to moderate sensitivity cold liquids and foods, as well as sweets. Sometimes the patient may experience sensitivity to heat as well, but that’s less likely.

Traumatic events are usually the root cause of reversible pulpitis. Usually, it’s caused by tooth decay, an extremely heavy bite or drilling into the tooth by the dentist. The closer to the tooth pulp the dentist must drill to remove decay before filling a cavity, the more of a chance there is that the patient will experience pulpitis.

In many cases, symptoms will decrease little by little until there’s no pain, sensitivity or discomfort associated with the tooth that received a filling. However, in more serious cases, reversible pulpitis can become more severe and lead to a more serious condition which we’ll discuss below.

Irreversible Pulpitis

With irreversible pulpitis, the patient usually experiences moderate to severe sensitivity to hot or cold liquids as well as sweets. Unlike reversible pulpitis which is characterized by a sharp pain that fades quickly, a patient is likely to experience prolonged pain that radiates outward from the affected tooth. The patient is also likely to experience some swelling in the area of the affected tooth.

Unlike reversible pulpitis which can correct itself over time, irreversible pulpitis ultimately ends with the death of the tooth pulp. Instead of getting better, the inflammatory agents inside of the tooth will continue to attack the tooth pulp until it finally dies. In this case, an extraction may be necessary.

Allergic Reaction

In certain patients, allergic reactions to dental procedures are a possibility. Certain patients may experience a reaction to several different external factors that are part of a dental procedure. These can include an allergic reaction to a local anaesthetic, allergy to latex gloves or most commonly, an allergy to one of the components used to fill a cavity.

Usually, these reactions are easy to pinpoint as they occur immediately after the mouth comes in contact with the irritant which the body is allergic to. Always be sure to disclose any known allergies to your dentist at the time of treatment so that you can avoid a potential allergic reaction if possible.

Most allergic reactions are fairly mild and are characterized by swelling and redness. However, more serious reactions are possible and can be characterized by blisters, lesions, pain and in extremely severe cases even death.

Filling Deterioration

Just like your natural teeth, fillings can deteriorate over time. There are several different factors that can contribute to the deterioration of a tooth.

If your dentist didn’t properly clean and prep the area of the cavity before filling it, the filling might fall out which leaves you in the same spot you were in before getting the filling in the first place.

The seal between the filling and the tooth can become compromised over time. Once the seal is compromised, it can allow bacteria to seep into the tooth through the compromised seal, which can have painful consequences, like an abscess.

Pressure from grinding or chewing can also cause fillings to deteriorate or crack. Usually, your dentist will be able to spot this issue before you can, which is why regular dental checkups are so important.  

The Cavity is too Deep

Sometimes, the cavity is too deep for a filling to be effective. However, since a filling is a much cheaper alternative than a root canal, dentists may attempt to fill the cavity and take a “wait and see” approach with the tooth. If the filling can eliminate any pain or discomfort that the patient feels then it can be left as is. However, in an instance where the tooth is badly decayed, and there is very little tooth left before the nerves of the tooth are exposed, sometimes a filling cannot adequately address the problem.

In that case, the dentist will have to remove the filling (if it hasn’t already fallen out on its own) and more advanced dentistry will be required. At that point, you can expect a root canal.

Remedies For Tooth Pain

If you’re looking for how to help tooth pain, this helpful list of toothache home remedies will point you in the right direction and get you on the road to relief quickly. Keep in mind that if you’re experiencing more severe pain, it’s best to contact a dentist immediately. However, for most common types of dental and tooth pain, these remedies will do the trick provide relief. Read on if you’re wondering how to get rid of a toothache.

Cold Compresses

One of the most tried and true toothache remedies to reduce the swelling and pain associated with a toothache is a cold compress. Simply apply an ice pack to your cheek on the side of your face where you’re experiencing dental pain, and you’ll get some immediate relief from the pain associated with a dental issue. It also does a number on any swelling you may be experiencing.

Clove Oil

Cloves have been used for centuries to provide relieve toothache pain thanks to the compound Eugenol, which is present in cloves. There are some different ways you can use cloves to treat dental issues. Cloves can be used whole, powdered, or in their most effective form: as a concentrated oil. While clove oil is most effective, it may not be as readily available to you as whole or powdered cloves.

To use whole cloves as a toothache remedy, put 2-3 cloves into your mouth as near to the area you’re experiencing pain as possible. When the cloves begin to soften, chew them slightly. Chewing them allows more of the oils contained within to be released, which will help reduce the pain you’re experiencing more effectively.

If you have powdered cloves available, simply take a pinch of the spice and place it in between the affected tooth and your gum. The powder will mix with the saliva in your mouth where it will form a sort of paste that can effectively mitigate dental pain.

Finally, let’s dive into one of the best toothache cures there is; clove oil. Clove oil contains lots of the compound Eugenol, which has been used for centuries to provide relief from dental pain. In fact, it’s still used to this day. Have you ever noticed that before your dentist injecting you with a local anaesthetic, they will rub some sort of jelly on your gums, which helps to anaesthetize the area before the needle? Usually, the primary numbing agent used in that jelly is Eugenol.

To use this effective toothache medicine, simply dab a cotton ball into the clove oil and place the cotton ball on the affected tooth. Bite down lightly to hold it in place.

While this method is most effective, you’ll want to do your best to avoid exposing other areas in your mouth to the clove oil as it can be rather unpleasant if it gets onto your tongue or gums.

Sea Salt Rinse

Another remedy for providing toothache relief which is seemingly as old as time is a sea salt rinse. A salt rinse is a great way to clean and sanitize the affected area. It can also eliminate any pus or discharge that you’re experiencing as a result of the tooth pain. Plus, it can also help prevent swelling as well.

To make your own salt water rinse, combine a teaspoon full of salt with 6 oz. of hot water. Mix the salt around until it has fully dissolved. Swish the salt water around in your mouth for 30-45 seconds.

You can repeat a salt water rinse several times throughout the course of the day and it’s a great way to provide temporary relief of your symptoms.

Liquor

Ah, good ol’ liquor. Liquor, especially dark liquors like bourbon and rye possess some anaesthetic agents that can help to provide temporary relief. To use alcohol as a natural remedy for toothache pain, just dip a cotton ball into some liquor and apply it to the affected tooth. Bite down gently to keep the cotton ball in place.

Unfortunately, the relief you’ll experience is temporary, and you’re going to be in pain again as soon as the alcohol evaporates.

Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

Similar to salt water solution, a hydrogen peroxide rinse is another effective way to provide temporary relief from dental pain. Unlike salt water, hydrogen peroxide contains agents that can attack and destroy bacteria, instead of just rinsing some of it away. For this reason, it can be a more effective toothache home remedy.

Hydrogen peroxide can burn your mouth if it isn’t diluted, so you’ll want to mix equal parts peroxide with water before you put it in your mouth. You’ll probably find that 1 oz. of hydrogen peroxide and 1 oz. of water is plenty to do the trick.

Once you’ve made your solution, just swish it around in your mouth for 30 to 45 seconds and spit it out. Be very careful not to ingest the peroxide as it’s not meant for internal use whatsoever, and it can lead to some gastrointestinal problems if swallowed.

Garlic

What’s good for teeth pain? Try garlic! Garlic is a great way to prevent more bacteria from infiltrating the affected tooth. To use this remedy, just mash up a clove of garlic and apply the crushed garlic to the affected tooth. Leave the garlic on the tooth for a few minutes, then rinse your mouth out with salt water or hydrogen peroxide rinse.

Vanilla Extract

We already mentioned hard liquor as a remedy. But, that may not be something you have readily available in your home. On the other hand, you may have vanilla extract in your spice cabinet. Since it’s primarily made from alcohol, it can provide you with tooth pain relief in a pinch.

To use this remedy, soak a cotton ball in vanilla extract and apply it to the affected tooth. As a bonus, the soothing scent of the vanilla will provide you with some aromatherapy benefits as well.

Teabags

If you’re looking for how to relieve tooth pain, the answer could be as simple as a cup of tea. Tea contains tannins, which have natural astringent properties and can reduce swelling. There are some different ways you can use tea to reduce the pain and swelling associated with a toothache.

First, you could simply brew yourself a cup of tea and swish the tea around in your mouth for 30-45 seconds, then spit it out.

You can also use the tea bag itself as a home remedy for a toothache. Allow the teabag to cool and then place it directly on the affected tooth for a few minutes. You can also place the teabag in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, which will help provide even more relief from your tooth pain.

Once you’re done, rinse your mouth out with a salt water or hydrogen peroxide rinse.

Tips for Limiting Tooth Pain

When it comes to how to help tooth discomfort, there are some effective measures you can take to try and mitigate any pain you may be feeling. In addition to the remedies above, you’ll want to adopt these practices while you’re dealing with tooth pain as they can help you limit the causes of dental pain.

Avoid Chewing Near the Affected Area

The more you can stay away from the area where you’re experiencing pain, the better chance you’ll have at avoiding further aggravation or pain. Try and chew food on the side of your mouth opposite the area where you’re experiencing pain or discomfort.

Avoid Very Hot or Very Cold Foods

When your teeth are sensitive because of dental work, the primary trigger is often hot or cold foods. Whenever possible, do what you can to limit your exposure to these types of foods or liquids. When it comes to cold drinks, sip them through a straw, or wait for them to warm up a bit before drinking. If you’re unable to avoid hot or cold foods and drinks, try to avoid the side of your mouth where you’re experiencing pain.

Use Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitive after filling a cavity? Then this tip can be a lifesaver. If you have sensitive teeth in general, or if you’re experiencing localized sensitivity as a result of a recent or pending dental procedure, toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth can be extremely helpful.

Desensitizing toothpaste usually includes ingredients such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These ingredients effectively make your teeth less sensitive to outside stimulus. Our teeth typically become more sensitive over time, as the protective enamel of our teeth wears away because of the foods we eat and drink each day.

While desensitizing toothpaste won’t treat any of the underlying causes that may be resulting in your sensitivity, they do a great job at providing relief. Toothpastes that contain potassium nitrate tend to be the safest option of all the desensitizing agents.

Eat Soft Foods

Not only is it a good idea to avoid hot and cold foods while dealing with tooth pain, but another way to find toothache pain relief is by eating soft foods wherever possible. As you’d imagine, hard foods are more difficult for our teeth to break down and put more stress on the teeth as you chew. The fewer hard foods you eat when dealing with dental pain, the easier it’ll be to avoid triggering the pain.

Use a NSAID Pain Killer If Necessary

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are a very effective way to mitigate dental pain. Since so much of dental pain occurs when the pulp of the tooth becomes inflamed, these drugs help to counteract that inflammation, allowing the pulp of the tooth to return to a more normal, less agitated state which helps to reduce pain quickly and effectively. So, if you’re dealing with a toothache, Aleve, Motrin or Advil can often be a quick fix for your symptoms.

When To See Your Dentist

Tooth pain can be frustrating and painful, and it can seriously disrupt your life. Fortunately, in many cases, tooth pain after a dental procedure is common and will start to fade in just a day or two. But, this isn’t always the case.

It’s important to keep in mind that if you’re experiencing severe pain, pain that lasts for an extended period, or pain that seems to come and go after you’ve had a recent dental procedure, it’s best to contact a dentist. A dentist will be able to give you a clearer idea as to why you’re experiencing dental pain and provide you with the relief you’re desperately looking for.

Gregory Melhorn

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