A dental filling, also known as a "dental restoration", is used to fill in carious lesions—holes in the teeth caused by cavities or tooth decays. There are many dental restorative materials, including but not limited to dental porcelain, glass ionomer cement (GIC), composite resin, gold, silver amalgam, base metallic alloys, precious metallic alloys, etc.
Fillings are not only for cavities; they are also used to restore missing tooth parts; for instance, if they were chipped away by accident. Tooth decays happen usually because of accumulated food remnants on the tooth exterior which were not removed or immediately brushed away after every meal; frequent consumption of foods with high sugar content; and insufficient dental care and cleanliness.
A dental patient should normally not feel any tooth pain after filling, save for some discomfort during intake of cold and hot foods and drinks. Tooth discomfort usually means your dental pulp and nerves are just adjusting to the filling. However, tooth pain after filling is not uncommon. There are plenty of reasons why tooth pain after filling occurs.
One possibility is the mistake of using dental restorative materials beyond their expiration dates. This can cause undesirable nontherapeutic effects, like tooth pain after filling especially in the area of the dental pulp and nerves. Just as out-of-date medicines should never be administered on patients, so it is with dated dental restorative materials.
As mentioned earlier in this article, it is not unusual for a dental patient to feel discomfort after a dental filling placement. It is expected during intake of cold and hot foods and drinks, and also while biting and chewing. It is brought upon by the air and its temperature as well. The closer the dental filling is to the dental pulp and nerves, the more tooth discomfort there is. This is no cause for anxiety as the sensitivity should vanish after a week or two. If tooth discomfort escalates into extreme and long bouts of pain, get in touch with your dentist. If the "period of tooth discomfort" goes beyond a couple of weeks (or within whichever timespan your dentist may have told you to expect tooth discomfort), let your dentist know.
Another reason is that the dental filling placement is not the proper solution for the tooth cavity. That is why there is persisting tooth pain after filling. One common mistake of dental patients is that they tend to "procrastinate" in visiting their local dentists. In an attempt to save money, they do not go to the dental clinic if they think that the tooth pain they are feeling is "minimal". They assume that it is not much a reasonable cause for concern. Only after severe tooth pain do they finally go to the dentist, and usually by then it would already be too late.
If it is too late to "save" the affected tooth, a root canal surgery is recommended. A root canal surgery is a lot more expensive than a dental filling placement, and because of this some dental patients persist in having a dental filling placement against the advice of their dentist to instead undergo a root canal surgery. Once the dental filling procedure is over with, the patient would feel pain. There are cases wherein a dental filling placement is not enough; for example, in deep cavities where the dental pulp and nerves are already infected with bacteria. Both the internal and surrounding areas of the tooth are heavily decayed and the only way to remove them is through a root canal surgery.
Hypersensitivities may also occur. Before the dental filling procedure takes place, inform your dentist about your hypersensitivity disorders or allergies when it comes to the different materials of your dental filling placement options. Be reminded that it is normal to have allergic responses to dental filling placement materials, especially with those made of metal.
Moreover, the dentist may have committed a mistake in observing the tooth decay. He/she may have correctly diagnosed a tooth cavity, but dentists should always be watchful concerning the probability of the dental patient having more than just one tooth cavity. Naturally, that one tooth decay is treated and the other/s is/are overlooked. Afterwards the patient will continue to feel tooth pain after filling.
Nowadays, before performing any dental procedures such as filling placements and root canal surgeries, most—if not all—dental clinics make their patients go through a dental x-ray so that they would not miss anything, such as other teeth needing treatment. As for those dentists who do not have the luxury of a dental x-ray machine, they just have to be extra careful in their examination skills during a patient’s dental check-up. A mediocre examination is a hazard, and very thorough one is a great necessity for the sake of the patient’s dental health.
Tooth pain after filling happens due to issues concerning the tooth filling structure. If the dental filling placement was not contained appropriately in the carious lesion, it may cause root canal irritation, and inflammation of the dental pulp and nerves.
Another possible structural issue is that the filling may have fitted properly, but it just was not the correct material and lining for the patient’s tooth structure and as a result, the filling begins to develop gaps or rifts. The dentist might opt to put a temporary filling for the meantime. A root canal surgery might be needed if the pain persists and if the decay is already in too deep. Inform your dentist when structural problems such as these occur. Also, if you feel that your current dentist is not properly doing his/her job, do not hesitate to go around and ask for a second opinion.
The dentist might have misdiagnosed the tooth problem. As indicated earlier, the dentist may have placed the wrong kind of material of cement inside the patient’s cavity, which will ignite irritations and even inflammations to the calcareous bulk and dental pulp of the tooth. Incidents where the dentist has put the dental filling in the wrong tooth are not unusual. In these occurrences, tooth pain after filling will naturally continue.
It would eventually cause serious harm to the patient’s oral health if he/she is unaware that he/she has been given the wrong dental treatment. In worse-case scenarios where the dentist is incompetent enough, a misdiagnosis may trigger a domino effect. Misdiagnosis can cause another instance of misdiagnosis should the patient return to the dental clinic to have the affected tooth examined again. It would also cost the patient more than what is necessary.
Tooth malocclusion is another common reason behind tooth pain, also known as "incorrect bite". Malocclusion is the unevenness of teeth from two dental arches. There are varied examples of malocclusion. The tooth’s sharp points may not be aptly formed. The dental filling is shaped with greater elevation than that of the original tooth insides. So every time the patient bites and chews, the force is misbalanced among all teeth and most of it is directed at the recently-treated tooth.
Thus, it causes a great toothache as the force emitted while biting and chewing is concentrated on the newly filled tooth. To prevent these problems, the dentist must have excellent foresight regarding the infected tooth’s shape and its corresponding effect on its counterpart on the opposite dental arch. They must come together, harmoniously fit, to prevent malocclusion issues which cause tooth pain.
If one disobeys his/her dentist’s post-filling instructions, of course there would be continuous tooth pain—instructions such as "avoid smoking", "avoid excessive intake of alcohol", "avoid stressing yourself out", "avoid staying up so late at night", "get sufficient bed rest", etc.
There are more reasons for this sort of tooth pain such as taking the wrong medicine (incorrect prescription) after the dental filling placement; putting a thicker filling inside the tooth which needed only a thin lining; carious lesions not disinfected thoroughly and some of the decay debris were not removed; etc.
In the end, we would not need a dental filling placement if all of our teeth are in great oral health. It all boils down to the proper tooth care and choosing your dentist very carefully.