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These days, a trip to the dentist is a fairly uneventful affair. Patients report comfort levels far exceeding those in the recent past; pain relief medications are more effective and take effect more rapidly; and materials used in treating patients are more adaptive to tooth structures than ever before. Each of these improvements is designed to provide patients with the best clinical outcome and a degree of comfort previously unheard of. However, for a small percentage of patients, post-appointment pain can still crop up and linger for days or weeks on end. Why?
It’s Good To Be You – Sometimes.
Excluding rare instances of product malfunction or dentist error, the main reason a tooth is likely to hurt after a filling has to do with many highly individual factors in your mouth. The structure of your teeth, past dentistry, personal habits (like clenching and grinding), and even the durability of the blood vessels, tissues, and nerves within your teeth, play a part in whether you remain pain-free after your anesthetic wears off.
What Can Bring About the Pain?
- Heightened sensitivity: If you consider yourself to have sensitive teeth, a trip to the dentist is probably going to make them feel worse for a while. That’s mostly because prior to your visit, your teeth have, in a way, been “hiding out” underneath a bunch of plaque and tartar. No good for the health of your teeth, for sure, but that gunk can mask sensitivity when it covers recessed areas. Once your hygienist removes that barrier, you’re going to experience more sensitivity as a result. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help – so please ask your dentist for recommendations.
- Material used: When filling teeth today, many dentists tend to gravitate toward the use of composite materials. They’re flexible and durable, insulate the tooth from extremes in temperature, and bond so efficiently that less of the tooth needs to be removed to place the filling. That said, despite their proficiency in dealing with temperature, composite fillings cancause increased sensitivity when the filling is deep, or if it’s placed on an area of the tooth that experiences greater “flex.” For example, a filling completed along the cheek or tongue side of the mouth may hurt for longer than one completed on the biting surface, because of the unique stresses the tooth experiences at that location.
- Pulpitis: Just as any surgeon will tell you “all surgery is risky,” all restorative work is traumatic to teeth. When a tooth requires a filling, the extended vibration and heat from the drill can cause the pulpal tissue within the tooth to swell. This can result in a condition known as pulpitis. In most cases, the swelling that results from this overstimulation is transitory, and fades as the tooth heals itself. Occasionally, though, the tooth fails to deal with the trauma, and the result is irreversible pulpitis. When this happens, the unfortunate remedy is often a root canal procedure.
- Uneven Bite: The most common cause of pain after the placement of a filling is a “high” or uneven bite. This occurs when a filling placed on the biting surface of your tooth is uneven with the opposing tooth. When this happens, your bite might feel a bit “off.” The good news is, it’s not really anything to worry about. All you’ll have to do is revisit the dentist and they’ll smooth out the filling so it fits more naturally with its opposing tooth.
How Long Will the Pain Last?
This is the $64,000 question – and the most difficult to answer. The short answer is, it depends. It depends on your overall health, the health of your teeth, and the exact reason for the pain you are experiencing. In the vast majority of cases, pain that exists after a restoration tends to dissipate within a few days.
However, if pain persists beyond a week, you should call your dentist to inform them of your symptoms. Depending on the type of work you had done, your dentist may decide to perform additional X-rays, or suggest you wait a bit to see if things settle down with the passage of time.
Believe it or not, it’s not unheard of for some patients to experience discomfort for months after a filling is placed. The key is to be in communication with your dentist so you can monitor the situation correctly. While certainly not ideal, maybe you can find some comfort in the idea that you are as unique as you’ve always thought you were!
If your little one's teeth have begun to fall out, and their permanent replacements appear to be lagging far behind, you may wish to consider a space maintainer to minimize future orthodontic work. Believe it or not, the absence of your child's teeth might seem cute now, but those tiny little gaps can cause deep gouges in your pocketbook as you watch them fill up with teeth that don't belong there. Space maintainers are simple to use, kids get along fine with them, and they have become the de-facto standard for protecting the cosmetic and functional aspects of your growing child's mouth.
Why Your Child Might Need a Space Maintainer
When a child's tooth is lost early due to trauma, tooth decay, or nature's insistence that it drop out before its permanent replacement is due, a space maintainer can be used to hold back the natural inclination of teeth to move forward. Without preventing this movement, teeth that should be in the rear of our mouths end up along the sides, and take up precious real estate destined for another tenant. The result is overcrowding, and in some cases impacted teeth. In the end, it's always easier to save the space now, then create it later.
How They Work
Space maintainers are very similar in purpose and design to an adult "bridge," but instead of placing artificial teeth over the gap, the space is kept open to accommodate its future resident. At Kirksville Dental Group, we make most space maintainers out of metal, (sometimes both metal and plastic), and custom-mold them to the shape of your child's mouth. In most cases, the maintainer is made up of a metal band attached to a rectangular-shaped wire that butts up against the tooth across the gap. This acts to temporarily preserve the space where the baby tooth once was, so its replacement can erupt without obstruction. To some, the final product looks like an old Radio Flyer® snow sled, or a shoe horn you might use to maintain the shape of unworn shoes.
We have a great new service for you! Patient Connect 365 has some great online features that we know you are going to love!
Once you enroll and set up your own account you will be able to:
- Request appointments online
- Get email and text message appointment reminders
- Be alerted when you're due for your next check up
- Access your appointment and treatment history online
- Pay your Bills online
If you’ve been to our office lately, you’ve seen a few new faces! No, we aren’t having a lot of turn over; we’re just improving our customer service for you, the patient.
Over the past several years Kirksville Dental Group has grown and we wanted to make sure that we were going to be able to continue to give our patients the quality of care they have come to deserve and expect. In order to better serve our patients we have brought on Dr. Matthew Harden. With his schedule, we are able to get in more new patients as well as same day emergency appointments without making patients wait.
Jeanie Craggs has been a part of Kirksville Dental Group throughout the years filling in when needed but has officially joined our team full time as a dental assistant! She is a native to the area who brings years of experience. Shelby Eagen is another new assistant that has joined our team. Shelby has a fun loving personality that is eager to learn more about the dental field. Ashley Ayers will be greeting you at the door when you come into the office. We have hired Ashley as the Customer Service Coordinator. She is in charge of making sure we are best serving you, the patient. Ashley will also be keeping up with our website, blog, and social media.
There have been many changes over the past few months and they are all brought on by our desire to serve our patients and to continue to give quality of care. If there is ever anything we can do to improve your experience, please let us know.
Kirksville Dental Group is happy to announce Dr. Matthew Harden will be joining our team!
After graduating Summa cum Laude from University of Missouri and cum Laude from UMKC School of Dentistry, Dr. Harden joined Plaza Dental Group in Columbia, Missouri in 2012. As a native to the area, he is excited to serve the communites in Northeast Missouri with Kirksville Dental Group.
Dr. Harden will be taking new and emergency patients and have late appointments available. Please call our office at 660-665-1901 to schedule your appointment today.
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