5 reasons for tooth sensitivity after a filling: why does it hurt & how long?

It is not uncommon to experience tooth sensitivity after a deep filling. But the pain and numbness should go away within 2 hours after you leave the clinic. If the pain persists, it can indicate that the filling was not done correctly. You might have to return to your dentist soon.

You wonder why a tooth would hurt after it just got treated. However, this common question is often asked by patients who made a recent trip to the dentist. While tooth sensitivity is normal after dental treatment, it can be very irritating. 


It is certainly best to avoid fillings in the first place. A good dental hygiene is imperative to avoid cavities. But if you do need a filling, your teeth may be sensitive afterwards. We list 5 reasons why your tooth hurts and is extra sensitive after a filling and how long you can expect it to last.

Included in this article, you will find:

  • Your tooth is sensitive to hot & cold after filling or when chewing
  • How long should a tooth hurt after a filling?
  • Why does my filling hurt after months or years? 5 reasons
  • Jaw pain after filling
  • How does sensitivity feel after a filling?
  • A toothache after a filling is getting worse
  • How long should you wait to eat after a filling?
  • How to best avoid fillings
  • FAQ

Continue reading

Having a toothache is no less horrible and even after having seen the dentist you may still experience pain. Below, you will find examples and explanations for why you experience this and how long you can expect it to continue. We also included a list of ADA Seal of Acceptance acquired toothpastes.

composite filling

After the filling is completed, your teeth may be hot or cold. They are also sensitive to pressure, a normal condition known as pulpitis. 

The nerve of a tooth that undergoes the trauma of being drilled can become agitated and produce sensitivity that will last for days or weeks. 

This sensitivity is further increased if the decay is deep and close to the nerve. If this condition persists, you should contact your dentist and schedule another visit as soon as possible. 

An adjustment will often solve your problem. For now, continue reading as we show you 5 reasons for tooth sensitivity after a filling. We will also explain why it hurts and how long it lasts. 

Your tooth is sensitive to hot & cold after filling or when chewing.

Your dentist will check your bite at the end of the treatment. Because you are numb, you can’t exactly tell what feels normal. That is why after a filling, you might notice that the bite feels differently than before you made the dental appointment. 

glass of water

It is often remarked after the numbness subsides after a couple of hours. While the throbbing tooth pain is gone, you might experience pain when you bite down time. 

Additionally, sensitivity to cold and hot beverages or foods will confuse you as you try to identify the cause of your problem. Most likely, the filling is taller than what you find normal for your teeth and needs to be adjusted.

The entire surface of your teeth will be changed after a dental procedure, so the feeling will never be the same. But luckily, humans can quickly adapt to change. We get used to it over time. 

Still, pain is something you should not get used to. Contact your dentist and schedule another visit as soon as possible. They will fix your filling for comfort. 

How long should a tooth hurt after a filling?

Suppose your tooth hurts and is sensitive after a filling. In that case, it is a completely normal reaction that happens after the treatment has finished. During the time that follows, it is necessary to stay away from hot and cold foods and beverages for at least a couple of hours.

dental visit

During this time, your filling sets. It is why you might still experience pain. However, the pain should reduce after a week. The sensitivity will not last more than a month. 

During this time, you will notice an increased sensitivity whenever you eat sweet foods and hot or cold beverages. Changes in pressure and air temperature will also affect your teeth. If the pain and sensitivity do not disappear after a couple of weeks, consult your dentist and share your problem with them. 

Why does my filling hurt after months or years? 5 reasons

Temporary sensitivity is common after getting medical treatment. It can be a cause of concern if it occurs months or years later. In that case, you might need to get an additional treatment recommended by your dentist. Take a look below at 5 reasons why your filling hurts after months or years:

  • Pulpitis
  • Allergic reaction
  • Irritated nerve
  • Incorrect bite alignment
  • Galvanic shock
  1. Pulpitis

Pulpitis can cause tooth sensitivity because it is an inflammation of the pulp situated deep within the tooth. It does not occur with minor fillings and usual dental procedures. It can happen if the tooth has suffered an accident that resulted in a crack.

Pulpitis can also occur if the cavity is very deep and the tooth has undergone several fillings and procedures. While mild inflammation is referred to as reversible pulpitis, irreversible one occurs when the damaged nerve starts to die. A root canal is crucial and should be performed as soon as possible to save the tooth.

A restorative procedure performed by a skilled dentist will solve pulpitis. You will need to take antibiotics shortly after to clear any bacterial infection.

  1. Allergic reaction

After a filling, some people will experience allergic reactions. The filling material often causes allergic reactions in people that are sensible. Some of them can also develop an allergic reaction to other materials involved in the procedure, such as the dentist’s tools or gloves.

  1. An irritated nerve

Suppose you experience short-term tooth sensitivity after visiting the dentist. In that case, the cause might be related to a nerve inside the tooth suffering from inflammation. 

Your nerves are protected from external exposure by the enamel and cementum, which are your teeth’s outer layers. Deep fillings can often get close to the nerve endings and cause uncomfortable and irritable sensations. 

The sensitivity should quickly go away as the nerve heals. In some cases, this process can take days or weeks. You will not feel any difference once the nerve has fully healed, as a normal tooth will be the same as a filled one.

  1. Incorrect bite alignment

The tooth fillings have to line up with the other teeth in the mouth. It is something that your dentist should ensure in their procedure. When you bite down, you will experience an uncomfortable sensation and minor sensitivity for the next couple of days after the procedure.

But if the cavity filling is too tall, extra pressure will make things worse as you bite down. This type of sensitivity is worse than the one experienced after a successful filling. You should discuss this problem with your dentist and ask for another treatment to eliminate the discomfort. 

  1. Galvanic shock

In some rare cases, a small shock occurs when fillings composed of different metals touch and produce an electric current. It often occurs when one filling is made of gold while the other is made of amalgam. 

Jaw pain after filling

After a cavity is filled, it is common for people to experience soreness in their mouth. Around the area of the affected tooth, this feeling will be more intense. The complete range of symptoms is vast, but some people might also experience jaw pain. 

This pain is not related to the procedure in itself. It often occurs because you hold your jaw open for an extended period to allow the dentist to work on your teeth. The pain you experience in your jaw and teeth should go away on its own after a couple of days. 

If the filling is too high, you can also experience abnormal pain. It can sometimes become unbearable. In this case, do not wait for the pain to go away. Instead, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor and have them fix the issue. 

How does sensitivity feel after a filling?

man at the dentist

With sensitive teeth, you will notice specific triggers that will cause short episodes of uncomfortable sensations and pain. It’s particularly felt in the filled tooth and its surrounding area. There are many triggers for this sensitivity, and it often feels like a sudden pain that quickly comes and goes away.

Some of these triggers include:

  • biting down when eating
  • eating fruits and sugary foods
  • drinking juices and coffee
  • exposing the teeth to air when you breathe through the mouth
  • cold foods and drinks

Avoid the triggers presented above to reduce the pain. After a couple of weeks, the sensitivity will go away on its own. You can resume eating and drinking your favorite products without carefully considering their temperature.

A toothache after a filling is getting worse.

woman at the dentist

If the toothache is getting worse after a filling, the most common reasons are related to damage and decay. After a few hours, you should be fine. However, complete recovery might take longer. If this pain persists over time, you should contact a dentist. 

Most likely, you are suffering from complications. These complications can include:

Type of problem after a fillingTreatment
Large cavitiesLarger filling may be needed
Cavity / damage to other teethAdditional follow-up
Anesthetic issues / allergic reactionMedical advise may be necessary
Development of another cavityAnother filling
Uneven biteMay need additional or separate treatment

Large cavities

The dentist underestimated the depth of the cavity, which is larger than previously thought. A larger filling is recommended, or even a porcelain crown instead of a regular one. Extensive treatment is necessary for large cavities, with extraction being the last resort. 

Damage to other teeth

In some rare cases, the nearby teeth can get damaged during the filling procedure. Your dentist should be skilled enough to avoid such a thing, but accidents can happen. They can damage a neighboring tooth or gum with the drill, causing pain in the area. Additional visits and more healing time are required for a full recovery.

Anesthetic issues

You might develop an allergic reaction to the anesthetic used by the dentist, which will lead to discomfort and pain. Symptoms include swelling around the mouth and eyes, although these allergies are very rare. Pregnant women require an additional evaluation as they are more sensitive to anesthetics. Consultation of a doctor is recommended if in case of severe reactions or if in doubt.

Development of another cavity

Around the filling, another cavity might develop if a gap is not filled. Recurring pain is common, and another filling is needed.

Uneven bite

girl with braces

Along with constant pain, you might also notice that the filling makes it harder for you to bite properly. Another visit to the dentist may easily fix this problem or you may need a dental correction.

How long should you wait to eat after a filling?

The amount of time you have to wait until you can eat again depends on the type of filling. There are two types of fillings, and they have different requirements. Amalgam fillings are done with silver, and it usually takes about 24 hours for them to harden completely. You should wait at least one day before you can start chewing on the tooth that has been repaired.

The other type is composite fillings, which are more common in modern dental solutions. These will match the color of your tooth and harden right after the dentist uses a special UV light on your tooth. You can start eating after you leave the dentist’s office, but you might have to wait a couple of hours if you are still numb. 

food on a plate

How to best avoid fillings

But best of all would be avoiding fillings in the first place, and good dental hygiene is the first and most important step to avoid cavities. We were told by dentists that you should verify that your toothpaste

When these three requirements have been met, you only need to select your preferred taste. Below, you’ll find a selection of toothpastes with indicative prices.

ADA Seal of Acceptance acquired toothpastesPrice range
Aim, Cavity Control Protection, 5,5 oz0,96$ – 2,93$
Arm & Hammer Dental Care, 6,3 oz5,64$ – 6,99$
Colgate Cavity Protection Fluoride, 6,0 oz2,04$ – 2,39$
Crest Cavity Protection, 8,2 oz2,79$ – 6,33$
Parodontax Clean Mint Daily Fluoride, 3,4 oz5,99$ – 7,09$
PRO-SYS Mint Fluoride, 4,0 oz3,33$
Quip Mint Anticavity, 4,6 oz5,00$ – 5,10$
Sensodyne, 4,0 oz5,85$ – 7,25$


Is it normal to have tooth sensitivity after a filling? 

During a filling, your dentist does many intensive procedures, such as drilling or numbing a specific area of your mouth. Your body has to recover after such an operation. It might take some time until you feel like you did before the visit.

However, it is completely normal to have tooth sensitivity after a filling. It occurs right after the treatment has finished and will go away on its own several weeks later. 

What happens if a filling is too deep?

A deep filling might be required whenever a cavity reaches too close to the nerve of your tooth. After this operation, you might experience severe pain as the filling can irritate the nerve. 

This intensive pain might also occur after the filling reaches the nerve and irritates it. This pain should go away as the nerve heals itself, but sensitivity will not disappear for the next 4 weeks. 

What happens if a filling is too low?

It is possible for your dentist to overfill the decayed tooth or even place the filling too low. It results in great discomfort experienced by you in the form of sensitivity and severe pain. If the fillings are too low, they are not properly mounted into the gap of your tooth.

It can make the filling loose, which increases the risk of breaking. Eventually, the filling will fall out. Your cavity will become exposed again. If you discover a loose filling, it is crucial to visit your dentist again as there is a risk of bacteria entering the cavity and causing an infection. 

What foods am I able to eat after a filling?

You should avoid certain foods for at least one week after you come home from the clinic. Do not eat sticky, crunchy, or sugary foods. They can damage your teeth. Acidic and very hot or cold beverages will have the same effect and generate severe pain and discomfort.

You can try healthy foods like bananas or fruit smoothies served at room temperature. In the case of hot foods, a lukewarm vegetable soup is just ideal. These foods won’t trigger your sensitivity issues and also avoid the risk of damaging your filling. 

You should also bite and chew slowly, as you don’t want to damage your teeth by forcing them. If the pain and sensitivity persist after a couple of weeks, seek the help of your professional dentist. They will solve your problem.

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