Getting a filling is often a quick, simple procedure that takes care of a cavity in your tooth. So, what happens when your tooth hurts after you get a filling? Whether you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity just a few hours later or pain weeks after the procedure, either our Cary dentist office or our Holly Springs location will explain the possible causes and solutions to help you feel better. 

Getting a Filling from Your Family Dentist

Cary family dentistGenerally, your dentist will discover a cavity during a regular check-up, though sometimes a patient will see there is a hole in the tooth or is experiencing pain. If you notice a cavity or you’re experiencing pain, it’s important to visit your dentist as soon as possible to make sure the decay doesn’t spread or cause further complications. 

Your dentist will take x-rays to determine the extent of the cavity, then give a local anesthetic to numb the area so you’re comfortable while the dentist removes the decayed area and thoroughly cleans it of any leftover bacteria. A tooth-colored filling or, in some cases, an amalgam filling, is used to fill in the area.  

Tooth Sensitivity Right After A Filling

After receiving a filling, it’s not uncommon to experience sensitivity in that tooth and the surrounding areas. It may feel like a sudden sharp pain or a cold sensation, and this sensitivity can last a few days, maybe even a week. Our family dentistry practice recommends avoiding the following to prevent discomfort if you’ve experienced sensitivity:

  • Extreme temperatures in your foods and beverages – ice cream, iced drinks, hot coffee, or piping hot food may cause pain.
  • Cold air hitting the tooth, like when you breath through your mouth, the cold air may cause a moment of discomfort. Take care to breathe through your nose.
  • Sugary foods, especially sticky candies
  • Foods high in acid, like citrus, tomatoes, and coffee
  • Biting down hard when you eat. 

Sensitivity is often temporary and generally goes away on its own within a few days or a week.

Treating Tooth Pain After a Filling

If your tooth hurts after your filling, in addition to avoiding certain foods and beverages, you can also try these methods to relieve discomfort: 

  • Brushing with a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth – the potassium nitrate helps block sensations from reaching the nerve in the tooth.
  • Using an over-the-counter pain medicine, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Softer toothbrush that is gentle on your enamel and brushing gently, using circular motions on your teeth and gums.
  • Avoid using any teeth whitening products that can amplify sensitivity.
  • A topical ointment that can numb tooth pain temporarily.
  • Rinsing your mouth after you eat or drink things that are highly acidic.

Other Reasons Your Tooth Hurts After a Filling

Other, uncommon reasons you may be experiencing tooth pain after your filling include: 

Irritation to the Nerve

As your family dentist filled the cavity, the nerve within the tooth may have become irritated or inflamed. Fortunately, once the nerve heals, any pain or sensitivity should go away. 

Excess Filling Material

If you notice pain a few days after your filling that occurs  specifically when you bite down, or you have difficulty when eating, the filling may not line up with your other teeth because it’s too tall. Call your dentist to see what step to take next, often your dentist can smooth down the surface a bit to make sure it aligns with your other teeth.


Pulpitis occurs when the pulp that is deep within the tooth is inflamed. While it doesn’t generally occur when filling a small cavity, if the decay was severe or the tooth has been exposed to multiple procedures, it is more likely to experience inflammation. 

There are two kinds of pulpitis, reversible and irreversible. When the pulp is just slightly inflamed but otherwise healthy, the tooth will heal on its own. Irreversible pulpitis occurs when the nerve starts to die, and the patient needs a root canal. 

Sensitivity to Amalgam

If your dentist uses amalgam fillings in restorative dentistry, you may be experiencing a sensitivity to the mercury in the material. While amalgam is generally considered safe, some people can have reactions. If you have itching near the filling site along with pain, you may need to have it replaced with a composite filling.

When To Call Your Family Dentist After a Filling

If you experience the following symptoms after you have a filling, you should call a dentist immediately: 

  • Swelling around the tooth.
  • Pain or sensitivity lasting longer than 5 days.
  • Rash or itching around the site.
  • Ongoing pain, even when there’s no “trigger.” 
  • You “feel” the filling when you bite, especially after a few days.

Caring for Your Tooth Following a Filling 

After receiving a filling, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene – brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and adding additional support with a fluoride mouth rinse.  This will not only keep your filling in good repair, it will prevent decay in other teeth!

Contact Our Cary and Holly Springs Family Dentist for Quality Fillings

At Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry, we strive to make every dental procedure comfortable while also being effective. Schedule a checkup with us today by filling out the form below, by calling our Cary office at 919-467-2203 or Holly Springs office at 919-600-6262.

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