There is nothing worse than a toothache, and the best solution to soothe the discomfort is to visit your dentist and to determine whether a cavity is causing the problem. If you do have a cavity, then the next step is a dental filling to remove the decay and protect the tooth from future damage. However, many patients wonder: do dental fillings hurt? Learn more about the dental filling procedure and how to reduce discomfort after getting a filling.
Signs that You Need a Dental Filling
Toothache is just one of the symptoms of severe tooth decay. There are many other signs that you may require a tooth filling:
- Increased or intense sensitivity to hot, cold and sweet substances
- A rough tooth surface
- Grey tooth discolouration
- Throbbing or shooting pains when chewing or biting down
You may also need a filling if food frequently gets caught between your teeth, or if floss breaks easily when flossing between certain teeth. This can indicate overlapping teeth which are difficult to clean properly, which can lead to increased plaque and tartar build up and cause tooth decay.
What is the Procedure for a Tooth Filling?
A dental filling is a common restorative procedure and the earlier you have a cavity treated, the better. Waiting too long to address a cavity and the discomfort of a toothache can lead to other extensive tooth decay. Untreated toothache can also cause gum disease or root canal infection, which can lead to jawbone deterioration. This will cause far worse discomfort than a simple toothache. A dental filling is a simple general dentistry procedure that effectively removes decay and protects your tooth.
Before the dental filling procedure, your dentist examines your teeth and may take X-rays of your mouth to determine the location and severity of tooth decay. Once the dentist has identified the decayed tooth, they prepare the gums and the tissue underneath for any drilling necessary to remove the decayed part of the tooth.
This usually takes place in three steps. The dentist first dries out the area in the mouth around the tooth using cotton swabs or compressed air. Next, they apply an anaesthetic gel that initially numbs the surface of the gums.
Finally, a local anesthetic, usually lidocaine, is injected into your gum to further numb the gums and jaw.
There will be a small pricking sensation when the needle with the lidocaine enters the gum surface, but the needle itself does not cause this. The numbing gel placed on the gums before works to remove any discomfort from the needle. The pricking sensation you feel is actually the local anesthetic beginning its work in creating the deeper numbing needed to ensure that getting tooth fillings do not hurt.
Do Dental Fillings Hurt After the Procedure?
In some cases where the cavity might be deeper than expected or where more than one tooth has been filled, there can be some minor discomfort or sensations that are more noticeable once the anaesthesia wears off. However, any discomfort should dissipate after a day or two. Your dentist may suggest that you take some over-the-counter pain medicine for short-term relief and give you instructions for aftercare to minimise discomfort.
Your jaw may ache after the procedure, which is typical of most dental treatments, even a cleaning. This ache quickly subsides.
If the discomfort does not disappear after a week, then you should return to the dentist to check that the filling material has not interfered with your natural bite. This issue can be corrected quickly and easily without further anaesthesia.
Some symptoms may indicate that the filling was unsuccessful or infected. If you experience persistent swelling, excessive bleeding, bad breath or a foul taste in your mouth, contact your dentist immediately for a follow up consultation.
A trip to the dentist is probably not a visit that is high on anyone’s list, but if you think you have a cavity, call for an appointment to determine whether you need and tooth filling. Getting your teeth cleaned and filled as early as possible reduces the risk of needing more complex and uncomfortable procedures.
The dental professionals at Dental Spot have extensive experience in filling teeth. They are careful to address the sensitivities of the patient to ensure that any negative sensations from the tooth filling process do not cause discomfort.
If you are experiencing a toothache and think that you may need a dental filling, contact Dental Spot on (02) 9158 6115 to book an assessment.