Hosaka Family Dental

My fillings are sensitive. What does that mean?

Have you ever had a tooth feel sensitive while eating? Sometimes teeth that have had fillings may feel sensitive to chewing pressure, cold or hot foods, and sweets. Dr. Ryo Hosaka at Hosaka Family Dental has treated many patients with sensitive teeth. 

Fillings are placed in teeth to repair areas of the tooth that have been lost to decay or breakage. The filling, both tooth colored and metal, rebuild the lost tooth areas and also seals the inner part of the tooth from food and germs. The inner part of the tooth, called the dentin, is more sensitive than the outer enamel layer of the tooth. When cold foods or sweets reaches the inner part of the tooth it can feel very sensitive. 

One of the most common causes of tooth filling sensitivity is due to the seal between the filling and the tooth becoming compromised. Unfortunately, this seal usually does not last forever after a filling is placed. Once the seal is failing, foods and germs can seep into the space between the filling and tooth, causing sensitivity. If left alone, eventually new tooth decay may start. Most of the time, replacing the filling or protecting the entire tooth with a crown will reseal the tooth and allow you to chew eat without discomfort again.

Teeth that have very large filling replacing a majority of the tooth may become weak and start to develop cracks. Cracks will allow seepage of food and germs into the inner part of the tooth. These kinds of cracks are usually not easily visible but the result is consistently felt while eating. A cracked tooth is usually consistently sensitive to chewing and to having cold foods. If the crack gets very deep, it may reach the nerve at the center of the tooth causing aching and throbbing. 

It’s best to protect a cracking tooth as soon as possible to prevent injury to the tooth nerve or fracture of the tooth. A dental crown is the next step up from a filling. While the filling just patches the bad part of the tooth, a crown is a tooth-shaped covering that fits exactly onto the tooth, surrounding it from all sides to protect it. Once placed, the crown prevents the crack in the tooth from separating and getting deeper. Usually, this treatment will resolve the tooth sensitivity. 

Sometimes, a tooth that has gotten a new filling can feel sensitive. There can be several causes. 
The gums around the tooth can be irritated during the filling procedure, making the area feel tender. This tenderness usually goes away after a few days as the gum heals. 

The most common reason a tooth needs to get a filling is because of tooth decay. The decay is removed from the tooth during the procedure. The removal of decay, while necessary, can be irritating to the tooth, especially if the decay is deep, close to the nerve. A tooth can become sensitive after the filling procedure, even if the tooth felt normal before the filling was done. This sensitivity can last a days or weeks, and in more rare cases, several months. As long as the sensitivity is improving by day by day or week by week, this is a good sign.

Near the end of the filling procedure, the bite is checked to make sure the opposing tooth is not hitting hard on the new filling. Most of the time, the bite can be dialed in accurately, but sometimes, the patient may need to use the tooth and filling for a few days to see if it comfortable. If a new filling is high, it could make the tooth feel sensitive to chewing pressure or temperature. 
 
If you need help any new or existing sensitivity, Dr. Hosaka would love to help. Please call or text 770-435-3100 to schedule a visit.

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