Sensitive Teeth after a Filling

The expectation after dental work is that the problem has been fixed. However, in some cases a tooth will continue or even increase in discomfort. This is a well-known process in dentistry and has a name: postoperative sensitivity. Lectures and papers have been written on the topic, but unfortunately the problem persists. Here are the most current solutions we have to address postoperative sensitivity.

We’ve used fluoride in dentistry for over 70 years. It continues to be our best treatment for sensitivity and reducing the risk of cavities. Fluoride works by enhancing the body’s natural ability to rebuild enamel.

Sensitivity can also come from inflamed gum tissue. Often a cavity develops alongside localized gum disease. Once the tooth is treated, the gum still needs to heal from the infection. Chlorhexidine, a prescription rinse, can help speed the healing process.

A relative newcomer to tooth sensitivity is MI Paste. It looks like normal toothpaste, but it actually contains a milk protein that binds the minerals needed by our teeth and delivers them to the enamel. MI Paste, like fluoride, enhances the body’s natural ability to rebuild tooth enamel.

Sensodyne has been around for years. The active ingredient is potassium nitrate. It is effective for about 12 hours, but brushing at least twice daily will provide an adequate dose.

Sensi-Stop Strips by Crest are the newest treatment for sensitive teeth. Clinical tests have shown them to be effective, though less so than some of the other treatments.

I like to use everything we have at hand to address sensitive teeth simultaneously. We start with switching to Sensodyne toothpaste, wear custom whitening trays each day with 5% fluoride gel, Chlorhexidine rinse daily for 1 week each month, and use MI Paste each day. The sensitivity will usually subside in 2-4 weeks using this regimen. If it doesn’t, we might be dealing with a more severe inflammation of the nerve and further treatment might be needed.