What to Expect with a Tooth Filling

May 20, 2018, Total Health Mag

Performing a dental filling
Performing a dental filling
Things to know about dental fillings and what should prompt a follow-up visit after the treatment is performed.


No one particularly enjoys a visit with their dentist, especially when there have been complications or painful side effects of dental procedures in the past. However, consistent dental cleanings, check-ups, and corrective treatments are a necessary part of remaining healthy throughout a lifetime. Dentists are meant to provide help with keeping the mouth, gums, and teeth in proper working order, without decay and discomfort along the way. Above and beyond regular cleanings, tooth fillings are one of the most common treatments provided by dental offices and the NHS around the UK. While prevalent among adults and children alike, dental fillings come with a handful of risks that warrant a patient’s attention.

The Tooth Filling Procedure

Dental fillings are most commonly used to treat decayed teeth in adults and children, often the result of a cavity. When teeth cleaning through brushing and flossing regularly is not part of an individual’s routine, cavities are likely to form in one or multiple teeth. Cavities are also more prominent in those who eat a high-sugar or high-carbohydrate diet, as well as those who miss their annual visits with the dentist for routine cleanings. Dental fillings help correct cavities by placing a material in the affected tooth or teeth to prevent further decay or root damage.


Correcting cavities with dental fillings is common in the UK, with more than 84% of adults have had one or more fillings throughout their lifetime. When a cavity is identified by a dental technician or dentist, the procedure is recommended almost immediately. Dental fillings are performed under local anesthesia either through the NHS or a private dental office. The dental surgeon first removes the decayed material and thoroughly cleans the tooth to prepare for the filling. The dental filling is then placed in the area where the decayed tooth was removed, and bonded to the tooth in a short process. Most patients are healed within a few days of the tooth filling procedure, but there are cases when things do not go as planned.

Side Effects and Potential Risks

With dental fillings being so prevalent to correct cavities, it may seem odd that there are side effects and risks associated with the procedure that could lead to long-term health implications. The most common issue that arises from a dental filling is the introduction of tooth sensitivity after the treatment is performed. Most patients experience some degree of discomfort when eating or drinking cold and hot substances, when air passes over the tooth, or when pressure is placed on the recently treated area. However, this sensitivity subsides in a few weeks after the treatment, for most. Dentists may suggest a sensitivity toothpaste or mouth rinse to ease the discomfort, or they may recommend a change in diet to avoid certain food and drink. Ongoing pain may also be an issue after a dental filling, which unlike sensitivity, does not have an obvious cause. Pain may go away after a few days and is generally treated with over the counter pain medications for that time.

While these issues are relatively easy to resolve, there are instances where more severe side effects occur. According to an expert in medical negligence claims, serious risks include an allergic reaction to the filling material as well as the filling failing to bond with the underlying tooth. Dental fillings are available in four different materials, including silver amalgam, gold, ceramic, and composite. Allergic reactions are most prominent with silver amalgam fillings which lead to itching or a rash along with a toothache or increased prolonged sensitivity. When a dental filling fails to bond with the underlying tooth, external stimulations can cause a severe toothache. New decay may also be a potential side effect of bonding failing with dental fillings. Complications may also occur when the filling is not properly fitted or shaped when added to the tooth, or when infection takes place due to improper cleaning. These issues often arise when a dental surgeon is not properly trained or is not qualified to perform a filling procedure on a patient.

When to Contact Your Dentist

Although there are common side effects of dental fillings that most patients experience post-procedure, an immediate call to the dentist or surgeon is warranted in certain cases. If pain or sensitivity persists for several weeks after the treatment is done, it could be a warning sign of a problem that requires medical attention. Similarly, any severe pain that takes pain medication to eliminate may mean a follow-up visit is the next best step. Overall, dental fillings do not cause ongoing problems with most patients, but it is beneficial to understand the potential side effects and risks to ensure a healthy recovery after a filling is complete.

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