One fascinating thing about the Internet is that once you publish an article, it is available to anyone with a computer and access to the World Wide Web. Articles that I have published for the Bucks County Courier Times as well as prominent Internet websites often appear on dozens of other sites, including Howstuffworks.com, Dentistry.com and the Encyclopedia Britannica web site. Every day, I receive emails from just about everywhere asking me questions about different dental problems. No matter where the question comes from, it's amazing how similar most of the problems are. This column will answer a very common question I recently received online.
Q. Hello, I recently had two dental fillings in my front two top teeth at the same exact time.....after I got home and the Novocain® wore off, I noticed my left tooth is extremely sensitive to the touch. When I touch it with my finger, tongue or bite into any food it hurts extremely badly, but when I'm just sitting around doing nothing, it doesn't hurt. I went to my dentist and he said that it's just sensitive because of the filling and that if it doesn't go away in a week then I will have to get a root canal. Do you think this is normal? I don't think it's normal because the tooth had no pain at all before I went in there and now it's extremely sensitive and seems like it's getting no better. I had the fillings on Tuesday and now it's Friday night. What do you think I should do? Please offer your opinion.
A. There are several reasons that a tooth can become sensitive after it has been treated. The most common is that part of the tooth and all of the decay must be removed for a cavity filling to be placed. In some cases, this procedure can cause sensitivity. As a general rule, the deeper the cavity (closer to the nerve), the more likely there will be discomfort after the procedure. Some people may also be sensitive to the materials used to fill the tooth. I often tell my patients that some discomfort is possible for up to two weeks after a tooth has been filled. A frequent problem that occurs is when there is too much filling material in the tooth. This can cause a disproportionate amount of pain, but can be easily remedied with a simple adjustment of the tooth. If pain increases over time, or lasts longer than two weeks, I recommend that the patient come back to my office to have the tooth re-evaluated. A tooth that becomes increasingly sensitive to cold or hot foods or beverages, or hurts when biting down (when the bite is normal or has been corrected) can indicate an infected tooth that would required either a root canal or tooth extraction.
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