August 14, 2019
Did you know that over 90% of the population has had tooth decay (aka cavities) at some point in their life? This common condition leads to varying degrees of discomfort, but fortunately, a dentist in Odessa can usually repair it with a simple dental filling. However, as you may know if you’ve had many cavities filled, it’s not unusual to have temporary sensitivity after the procedure. Keep reading below to learn more and find out when sensitivity after a filling is normal and when you should call a dentist!
What Is a Cavity?
In simple terms, a ‘cavity’ can be defined as a hole in a tooth, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Cavities occur when bacteria in the mouth produce acids after consuming sugar or carbohydrates. Much like acid rain wears away stone over time, these acids eat away at the hard outer layer of teeth called enamel. If left untreated, these bacteria will continue destroying more of the tooth structure, eventually reaching the deeper layers where the pulp and nerve reside.
How Are Cavities Filled?
The smaller a cavity is caught, the better. When it’s only damaged the outer layers of a tooth, a simple filling is usually enough to restore the damaged tooth structure. Here are the basic steps involved in a dental filling:
- First, the tooth is numbed with local anesthesia.
- Then the damaged or decayed portions of tooth structure are removed.
- Next, a dentist fills the space with filling material (usually tooth-colored composite resin).
- The filling is then shaped and hardened with a special curing light.
- Finally, a dentist will make sure the bite feels normal and make any final adjustments as necessary.
Why Does Sensitivity Occur After a Filling and When Should You Call a Dentist?
It’s very normal to have a bit of lingering sensitivity after a filling because a cavity has irritated the nerve in the center of the tooth (particularly larger cavities). And the deeper a cavity is, the more the nerve becomes inflamed and sensitive.
Unfortunately, this sensitivity doesn’t immediately go away after a filling has been done. However, the nerve will usually heal, typically within several days or weeks, but there are a few signs that tell you it’s time to call your dentist:
- If your sensitivity gets worse with time
- If you develop a fever
- If you aren’t able to comfortably eat
- If your bite feels off or “high”
And, if in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your dentist. After hearing your symptoms, they can advise you over the phone and let you know whether you should come in for a follow-up visit or not!
About the Author
Dr. Steve W. Cobb is a Texas native and a family dentist in Odessa with over 35 years of experience. During that time, he’s repaired thousands of cavities and always educates his patients about the possibility of post-procedure sensitivity and how to handle it. If you have any questions about cavities or dental fillings, he can be reached via his website.
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