Why does my new tooth filling hurt when I chew? My dentist replaced an old silver filling in my top left first molar two weeks ago. The tooth is sensitive to cold and has hurt since I got the filling. I take ibuprofen. Is this normal sensitivity, or will I need the filling replaced? I have a new dentist, so I would like another opinion before I call the office. I don’t know what to expect. I was supposed to get in-office whitening in two weeks, and now this. It’s a little frustrating. Thanks. Ken from Memphis, TN
We understand your concerns and frustration. Although you would need an X-ray and an exam to get an accurate diagnosis, we will provide general information on types of discomfort and what can cause it.
Why Does a New Tooth Filling Hurt When You Chew?
When a new tooth filling hurts when you chew, the cause may be irritation from removing decay from a deep cavity, a change in your bite, or a tooth infection. Details for each scenario include the following:
- Mild sensitivity to cold foods and drinks. Removing decay from a large or deep cavity can irritate the tooth pulp. The sensitivity is more frequent with amalgam (silver) filling but can occur with composite filling. The sensitivity will decrease gradually.
- Moderate pain when you chew. The filling might have changed your bite if the pain is moderate without other symptoms. Or the ligament that connects your tooth and jawbone may be irritated. In either case, the pain will subside. However, if you feel a sharp pain when chewing without other symptoms, faulty bonding may cause your symptoms. You can get relief with a new filling.
- Evening moderate pain. While removing deep decay, some bacteria can be pushed into porous dentin (the layer beneath the enamel). When that happens, the bacteria will infect the tooth pulp. Your body may fight the bacteria, and the tooth can improve. Otherwise, you may need root canal treatment to remove the infection. Your dentist may refer you to an endodontist (root canal specialist) to determine whether you have an infection.
When you call the dental office, request an exam. An in-person exam and X-ray can lead to faster diagnosis. If your dentist cannot resolve your discomfort, you can ask for a referral to a root canal specialist. It’s best to wait until a dentist or specialist identifies and treats the cause of the sensitivity before you begin in-office teeth whitening treatments. Teeth whitening treatments can cause sensitivity, so you wouldn’t want to increase your symptoms.
David Finley, DDS, a Metairie, Louisiana, accredited cosmetic dentist and Academy of General Dentistry Fellow, sponsors this post. Read about what Dr. Finley, Dr. Thompson, and Dr. Coughran do to provide some of the best dental care in Monroe.