You just got a dental filling to fix a cavity and now you have pain in your jaw. What gives? Wasn't the point of the filling to fix your problem? While a filling should restore the tooth and improve your comfort, there are instances where people may experience jaw pain after a filling, as well as other issues. Knowing what to expect after your dentist restores a tooth can help you tell if something's gone wrong. Then, you can take the action you need to protect your mouth and overall health.
The goal of a filling is to repair the damage caused by tooth decay. Although a dental filling should help to fix your problem, you might notice a bit of sensitivity immediately following the treatment. The United States Cleveland Clinic notes that this tooth sensitivity is common after fillings and that it usually resolves on its own after a couple of weeks.
There are some cases when people do feel tooth pain or pain in the area surrounding their tooth after getting a filling. As the Cleveland Clinic points out, tooth pain after a filling can be a sign that the filling is affecting your bite or that the decay was severe enough to require more extensive treatment, such as a root canal. If that's the case, you may want to see your dentist to discuss your options.
What if you don't have tooth sensitivity or a toothache-type pain after a filling, but instead have pain in your jaw? In some cases, the tenderness might be a side effect of having a dentist working in your mouth. Simply keeping your mouth open for an extended period can cause your jaw to become sore. In some cases, keeping your mouth open as your dentist works can contribute to trismus, or "lockjaw," as the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) notes, which is a condition that makes it difficult to open your mouth fully.
In certain instances, jaw pain might develop because of a problem with the filling or another issue in the mouth. A case report published in the European Journal of General Dentistry describes how one woman developed jaw pain after a restoration, suggesting that the restoration she received was "jagged," which might have contributed to her pain. She also had signs of tenderness in the gums, which may have played a role, too. Smoothing and reshaping the filling helped to reduce her pain.
It might be a relief to know that jaw pain after a filling usually resolves itself quickly. But what if you want relief from your pain now, rather than in a couple of weeks? There are a few things you can do.
If you're experiencing lockjaw, US-based StatPearls suggests applying heat to the jaw area, or attempting gentle stretching exercises. Talk to your dentist to learn more about how to perform the exercises.
Certain pain relievers may also help to minimise your jaw pain, according to the CDA. Talk to your dentist or doctor before trying them to be sure that you get the dose right and that the medication won't interfere with any other medication you're taking. If the medication doesn't help, your dentist or doctor might prescribe a muscle relaxant to ease the pain.
Any sensitivity or discomfort you feel after a filling should let up after a couple of weeks. If more than two weeks have passed and you're still noticing that your jaw hurts, it's a good idea to book a follow-up appointment with your dentist. During your visit, they can inspect your mouth and look for potential causes of your jaw pain, such as tenderness in the gums or a rough-edged filling.
Together, you and your dentist can discover the cause of your continued jaw pain and can discuss what you can do to alleviate it.