Tooth Filling Pain - What's normal? | Smile Stories

Tooth Filling Pain – What’s normal?

The local anaesthetic has worn off and you now have tooth filling pain.

You’ve probably got questions. Is this pain normal? When will it go? Why is your gum sore?

Let’s answer these questions about tooth filling pain and make sure everything is as it should be.

tooth filling pain

What will you feel after a filling?

Pain or discomfort after a tooth filling is quite normal and should be expected. Once the numbness wears off you may experience:

  • Pain when biting down on the filled tooth
  • Sensitivity with cold, hot or sweet foods
  • Pain in the gum below the filling
  • Sensitivity when touching the tooth with your brush

Why do you have gum pain after a filling?

Sometimes the decay in your tooth may be very close to the gum line. To get successful long-term fillings, your dentist may have to encroach on the gum slightly to seal your teeth up properly.

This can lead to some mild inflammation or ulceration in the area. Luckily for you, your mouth has one of the best blood supplies in your body which means healing is very quick. Any ulcers should heal in 2 weeks. You can buy over-the-counter products which will help alleviate any pain in the meantime.

Why do you have pain when biting down?

This is generally down to two reasons:

Firstly, the filling may be slightly high in your bite. This can cause a bruise in your tooth socket if you’re always hitting this tooth first when chewing. Your dentist may have to reduce the filling a fraction of a millimetre.

Secondly, it could be due to how we bond fillings, particularly with white composite materials. White fillings stick to the sides of your tooth and this can cause some flexion when biting on them. It can take 2-4 weeks for this to settle down, so if you’re experiencing this after a white filling then you need to be patient.

What if your filled tooth is sensitive to hot and cold or brushing after a filling?

Sensitivity after a tooth filling is normal and may last 2-4 weeks.

After all….your tooth has been drilled.

It’s part of the repair process and is due to reversible inflammation within the innermost part of your tooth. Once the outer layers of the tooth have repaired themselves then your tooth pain after filling should settle.

Read on to find out what you can do to settle this sensitivity down.

How long will the tooth-filling pain last?

Knowing how long a tooth should a tooth hurt after a filling is difficult. It can depend on many things such as the size of the cavity, the material used, the amount of pressure put onto it and how the filling was placed.

It’s common for sensitivity to last 2-4 weeks after a filling. If you had a white composite filling this maybe even longer.

What can you do about tooth sensitivity after filling?

Firstly, if you’re having pain eating then move your chewing to the opposite side. The temperature and pressure will no longer affect the filled tooth, and simply switch back when it feels better.

Slight aching after a filling is normal and can be remedied with over-the-counter painkillers. As long as you can take them, ibuprofen and paracetamol alternated every 2 hours (so you’re taking one of them every 4 hours) will usually take the edge off.

Use a soft brush and floss gently if your tooth is sensitive to touch.

A good sensitive toothpaste will also help the tooth to settle down. Brush with this twice daily, and place on your finger between meals and before bed. You can then rub it all over the tooth whenever you’re not using it to speed up the healing process.

There is usually no need to call your dentist if you have mild pain or sensitivity after a filling.

But what if you have severe pain?

While some tooth sensitivity after filling is normal, severe pain may warrant a return to the dentist. Call your practice receptionist and make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.

If your tooth had a lot of decay inside then the resulting filling may be quite deep. If you are having severe throbbing tooth pain after your tooth filling then the tooth may need either extraction or root canal treatment.

Your dentist will be able to guide you down the best path and get you out of pain quickly.

If all else fails, try the NHS 111 number if you’re in the UK.


Dr. Gareth Edwards BDS qualified as a dentist with honours. Providing Invisalign in the Bournemouth & Poole area, he has a keen interest in orthodontics and is also a certified Six Month Smiles provider.