So, you finally made that trip to the dentist to have your tooth filled. You leave the office thinking all is well, and you breathe a sigh of relief. However, a few weeks (or months) down the road, you start to experience some sensitivity and unbearable pain. After a day or two, the pain subsides and goes away. What gives? Is all okay now? Maybe not and here’s why…

Inflammation Hinders Healing

If you have deep decay in a tooth that is close to the nerve, or “pulp”, of the tooth, you may well have inflammation. This inflammation, called “pulpits”, is not much different than any other type of inflammation which occurs in our bodies. However, the pulp is in an enclosed space and has no room to swell. Due to this swelling, the capacity for the pulp to heal on its’ own is greatly hindered.

Decay Still Happens After The Pain Leaves

Any temperature sensitivity noted early on is probably the result of a low-grade inflammation due to the removal of the decay which contains bacteria. Any decay present in a tooth must be removed to stop the decaying process from progressing. If the decay is too close to the pulp, it may be too late to stop the pulp from becoming infected and inflamed. This “inflammation” may initially be recognized as temperature sensitivity (i.e. hot/cold) when eating or drinking. However, once the defenses of the pulp become overwhelmed, it will die. Once this occurs the pain felt is severe, or acute, and will typically last for a day or two. After this short period of time, the pain will actually go away. This is due to the dying off of the nerves that transmitted the pain, as well as, the pulp tissue.

So, no pain means everything is back to status quo? Not so fast – no pain can signal the beginning of an infection, which can become chronic. This painless infection can silently progress until it, too, can become acute causing a painful abscess. There is a small chance that the pain has disappeared because the nerve has healed itself. A lot depends upon the extent of the decay and how the pulp has responded in kind. The only way to know what is really going on in your case is to have your dental care professional take a look.

Root Canal or Endodontic Treament

If your dentist makes the determination that the pulp tissue has died, or that the nerve is non-vital, a root canal or endodontic treatment will be necessary. During this procedure, a small “access” cavity is opened from the top of the tooth to gain access to the pulp “chamber.” This chamber portion of the tooth houses the pulp. Once accessed, this allows for the dead pulpal tissue to be removed. After the removal of the pulp tissue is complete, the root canals are then cleaned, disinfected and prepared for a filling which seals the canals to prevent further infection. If the pulp and nerve tissue are non-vital – no longer living – the root canal treatment is almost completely pain free.

General Dentist vs Endodontist

Do note that while a simple root canal procedure can be performed by your general dentist, optimal endodontic treatment requires an endodontist who has advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of these kinds of problems. Many general dentists do perform root canal treatment procedures but may defer complex cases to an endodontist. Your dentist will advise you on the status of the tooth and will refer you to an endodontist if necessary. Once an endodontic treatment is complete, most teeth will require a cap or crown to protect the tooth from fracture. This stage of treatment would be handled by your general dentist.

To insure your tooth is healthy – inside and out – and to prevent any future decay, don’t hesitate to contact your dental care professional if you experience tooth pain!

Contact Us (859-689-1105) For More Information or to Make an Appointment!


About Tri-State Family Dentistry

Tri-State Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing the highest quality dental care possible. Being privately owned since 2009, we don’t experience the corporate pressure that other dental practices have to hit certain revenue numbers. You will never be ‘sold’ dentistry at Tri-State Family Dentistry. After we explain your treatment options, you can make your own decisions.