If you come to your dentist with a problem, such as a chipped tooth or some tooth decay, your dentist is supposed to fix it, not create a new problem. But sometimes it happens that you come from your dentist’s office with as much or more soreness or sensitivity than before. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your dentist did something wrong. We rarely see sensitivity following the placement of restorations, but it can happen.
Some sensitivity for the first few days is normal, and should be controllable with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Your postoperative instructions will tell you what to expect. But if soreness continues beyond the usual period, there could be a real problem.
There could be many reasons why this happens, and sometimes your restoration can be fixed to reduce or eliminate discomfort.
Additional Tooth Damage
One reason why your tooth might be sore is that your dentist didn’t identify or fix the primary cause of your sensitivity. Getting a second opinion can help identify missed causes of discomfort, such as cracks or decay in the concealed part of the tooth, the root.
Sometimes the current restoration can be saved, but other times it will have to be removed and replaced. In even rarer cases, the entire tooth might have to be removed and replaced with a dental implant.
Poor Restoration Fit
This is a common cause of discomfort from restorations like dental crowns. If your dental crown isn’t properly fitted to your tooth and to your bite, it can cause soreness in the treated tooth or in surrounding or opposing teeth.
Sometimes the soreness will be constant, but other times it will come and go as you chew. The dental crown might feel “off,” or you might not be able to tell why it isn’t fitting properly.
Doesn’t Cover Tooth Properly
A restoration like a dental crown or filling is supposed to cover damaged teeth, including areas where decay has been removed. But if the restorations isn’t making a tight seal with the tooth, hot or cold liquids can get inside, irritating the tooth.
Over the long term, this can also lead to serious tooth damage as decay begins to form under the restoration. If you don’t report discomfort, you might not know about the decay until it becomes really a problem that requires a root canal.
Not Up to the Challenge
Sometimes, a dentist’s choice of materials leaves something to be desired. The most common type of white-colored fillings is a plastic with inclusions of ceramic materials. In general, this type of filling is durable and works well, but in some situations, especially large fillings, we need to use something a little sturdier, like a porcelain filling called an inlay or onlay. Otherwise, pressure on the tooth can cause sensitivity.
Metal fillings and crowns can cause cause sensitivity, but for a different reason. These materials conduct heat, which amplifies the effect of hot and cold materials in your mouth. Again, the solution is to remove the offending materials and replace them with more insulating ceramics.
What to Do if You Have a Sensitive Restoration
If your restoration is sensitive, talk to the dentist who placed it first. If they are unwilling or unable to fix the problem, please call (949) 551-5902 for an appointment with an Orange County cosmetic dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.