How to Manage Your Tooth Pain After a Filling
Filling a tooth can restore areas of decay and reduce toothache-related pain. However, every once in a while, your dental filling hurts more than your toothache did. If this is the case, it can be difficult to know if the tooth pain after a filling is a normal part of the process or something your dentist should check out. Here’s how to help filling-related pain subside — and how to know when it’s time to call your doctor.
Take an Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever
Check with your dentist to ensure the anesthesia given to you will not interfere with taking an over-the-counter pain reliever following your filling. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen and other pain relievers can calm irritated nerve endings, reducing the ache and tooth pain after the filling. Read the instructions on the back of your pill bottle carefully to ensure you do not exceed taking the recommended daily dosage.
Practice Anxiety-Relieving Techniques
When you are focusing on the tooth pain after your filling, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. By practicing anxiety-relieving relaxation techniques, you may help to reduce some of the pain and discomfort you feel. Some examples include taking slow, deep breaths, which delivers oxygen to your brain and tissues. Closing your eyes and imagining a calm environment or favorite place — a technique known as guided imagery — also may help to achieve relaxation.
Avoid Foods That Are Too Hot or Cold
Fluctuations in temperature can over-stimulate your mouth’s delicate nerve endings, resulting in sensitivity and tooth pain after a filling. Avoiding hot coffee and tea and very cold drinks can help to reduce pain that can accompany dental fillings. You may find you are sensitive to these temperature changes for up to a week after the procedure. Other sensitivities may include eating sweet foods or feeling air rushing against your tooth. If these happen to you, avoid the foods that seem to disturb your tooth. If your sensitivity continues, however, see your dentist.
Switch to Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
In the weeks after you have had your filling, you may wish to switch to a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. While you likely won’t need to use it permanently, the toothpaste can minimize sensitivity and discomfort in the week post-filling. Your dentist also may recommend applying a fluoride gel on your teeth after your filling. Fluoride helps to strengthen your teeth, making them less sensitive. Think of this step as applying a protective sealant to your windows.
See Your Dentist
If your tooth pain after the filling exceeds the norm or you have certain symptoms that accompany the pain, it may be time to call your dentist. One example is if you suspect you are having an allergic reaction to the materials used in the filling, which are typically amalgam, which has silver components. Although rare, allergic reaction symptoms would include itching and breaking out in a skin rash.
Another sign it’s time to see your dentist is if you had a tooth filled a few days ago, and you are experiencing pain when you bite down. While this pain type is normal immediately following your dental filling, it is not normal when you have had the filling for a few days. See your dentist for this tooth pain because it can indicate your filling may not have been properly shaped and may require some additional attention from your dentist.
You also can experience a type of shock known as galvanized shock if you have two metal fillings that rub together to create an electric current. This type of tooth pain after a filling feels very sharp and only takes place when your teeth touch each other.
As a general rule of thumb, if you experience pain you feel is out of the ordinary or gets worse instead of better with time, see your dentist to ensure your filling has been successfully placed.