I want to touch on a common topic – an issue that I hear stories and questions about all the time. It goes something like this - I just had some dental work done on a tooth and now it is sore. It wasn’t’ sore before the work. Is that normal? What could it be?
There are a few simple truths that one has to keep in mind when considering this situation. First and foremost – problem and symptom are not synonyms. What that means is this; you can have a problem without having pain. It reminds me of the “anecdotal story” of the man that walks into the hospital complaining of stomach pain. A body scan and testing is undertaken and reveals a grapefruit sized tumour in his abdomen and he is given two weeks to live. That same man was not in the hospital complaining of pain a month or two earlier, but clearly would have still had the tumour.
Pain is an indicator that often shows up only at the very end when the problem is really bad and there are only limited treatment options that are most often more involved and more costly. Also remember that a tooth doesn’t know good from bad. It simply knows that something happened to it. Your tooth has essentially had a small surgery done to it, which will cause some inflammation, which can in turn lead to pain. It really is no different than having any other body part operated on. Often there is an uncomfortable healing period that follows. Modern dentistry has gotten quite good at early intervention which often gives you the best chance at avoiding pain all together.
Now, having said all of that, there are a few common things to consider. First and most importantly, how bad is the pain? It generally should be headache level (2 Advil or Tylenol make it go away) and improving – meaning if it comes back it is less intense and/or less frequent. The trend is most important as improvement shows healing. A worsening trend could point toward poor health of the tooth nerve, which would require more treatment. Secondly, if you slowly close your teeth together, does it feel normal to bite? Or, are you hitting the tooth in question first? If you are hitting that tooth first your bite is likely off meaning that you are striking that tooth too hard and you are bruising it. A dentist will need to adjust that for you. This is easier when you are not frozen and still possess all your coordination. Thirdly, there may be an issue with the choice of materials that have been used to “fix” the tooth. Not all materials are created equal and the right one needs to be selected for the application. Such materials include composite fillings (plastic – is cheaper, but more flexible) and porcelain crowns, inlays, and onlays (this material is most similar to tooth enamel – more resilient) among other materials.
There are many other reasons as well, all of which will require testing from a dentist. Schedule an assessment or consultation – early intervention is prudent and leads to better outcomes.