Is A Damaged Filling Causing Your Tooth Sensitivity?

Dentist Blog

Many people suffer from sensitive teeth, and may find eating or drinking hot and cold foods excruciatingly painful. In many cases, this sensitivity is caused by an underlying dental health issue, such as worn enamel, receding gums or tooth decay. However, if you are suffering from noticeable sensitivity in a tooth with a filling, the filling itself may be to blame.

How Do Damaged Fillings Cause Tooth Sensitivity?

Dentists can use a variety of methods to repair damaged teeth, and generally, choose non-invasive methods (such as dental bonding) to repair superficial cracks and chips. Fillings are used to repair more serious damage to teeth, which reaches the tooth's inner dentin, pulp and nerve endings. In many cases, a filling is placed directly over a hole in a tooth which leaves nerve endings exposed.

If a dental filling has been damaged or dislodged, it may expose the nerve endings in your damaged tooth. These nerve endings are extremely sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, and can cause a great deal of pain if they are exposed to hot or cold food and drink. 

My Sensitive Tooth Was Recently Filled — Is This Normal?

Sensitivity in teeth that have recently been filled is generally considered normal. While the composite or amalgam filling placed in your tooth is designed to protect the nerve endings, the nerves will initially react to the presence of the filling itself and will take time to desensitise. Your dentist will advise you to avoid hot and cold foods for a few days or weeks after the filling is inserted.

However, if the sensitivity in your recently filled tooth has not subsided after a few weeks, there may be a problem with the filling. If the filling was inserted incorrectly or was accidentally damaged while the composite resin or amalgam was still hardening, it may leave the tooth's nerve endings exposed, or continue to irritate the nerve endings long after they should have become desensitised.

What Should I Do About A Sensitive Filled Tooth?

If one of your filled teeth has recently become more sensitive, or you are suffering from pronounced sensitivity in a tooth that was filled several weeks or months ago, you should book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will inspect the filling for signs of wear, damage or improper installation which may be causing the sensitivity.

Sensitivity problems in filled teeth should never be ignored, even if the sensitivity only occurs from time to time. If the sensitivity is caused by a loose or damaged filling, the tissue and nerve endings inside the tooth may be exposed to bacterial infection. Infected tooth pulp can be both painful and dangerous, and may make invasive dental treatment (such as root canal therapy) necessary.

If your dentist finds that your filling has been damaged or dislodged, they can repair or replace it quickly, before any infections can take hold. They may also be able to offer you treatments that will prevent future damage to the restored filling. For example, if your filling was damaged because you grind your teeth in your sleep, a dentist can provide you with a shaped mouthguard to prevent wear and damage.


11 July 2022

Dental Health: Not To Be Taken For Granted

As a retired dentist, I work with charities which visit developing countries and educate children about dental care. It gives me great satisfaction to revisit these communities and see how proud the children are of their efforts. I am acutely aware that good dental hygiene can help prevent a range of serious conditions when these children become older. I started this blog because it greatly distresses me that many people in Australia do not seem to care for their teeth as much as children in these poor communities. This is happening despite ready access to items like toothbrushes and toothpaste which are luxuries in the places I visit. It is my hope that this blog encourages you not to take dental health for granted. My greatest wish is that you can be as inspired as the children I see in my charity work. Please read on and enjoy.