Why Do I Have Tooth Sensitivity After Dental Work?

Sensitive teeth can be common following a trip to the dentist, especially if you’ve had a cavity filled, a deep cleaning, or a whitening procedure. Learn each cause of sensitivity, what to expect, and how to care for your teeth before and after your visit.

Talking to a dentist about tooth sensivity

Tooth Sensitivity After a Cavity Filling

A filling can be somewhat stressful on a tooth, and it’s not unusual to feel tooth pain after a filling. Sensitivity after a cavity filling depends on the technique and materials your dentist used to fill the cavity as well as the health of your tooth. After a filling, your tooth may be sensitive to cold, hot, or sweets. Typically, tooth sensitivity resolves on its own within a few weeks.*

Tooth Sensitivity After a Deep Cleaning

In order to deep clean your teeth, your dentist must go above and below the gum line to remove all of the plaque and tartar. Following the procedure, your gums may be swollen, feel tender, or bleed, and your teeth can feel sensitive for up to two weeks.* A dental polishing is typically pain-free, but your hygienist can provide you with anesthesia if you are experiencing pain.1 If you notice any pain or sensitivity during a cleaning, let your dental health professional know. The pain can be a sign of dental cavities, and treatment is less painful when it is done early.2

Tooth Sensitivity After a Whitening Treatment

Whitening your teeth can cause tooth sensitivity. During professional bleaching treatments with peroxide, the peroxide can pass through the enamel and reach the nerve which can cause irritation. Sensitivity from tooth whitening can depend on the concentration and length of time peroxide is exposed to the tooth surface. In most cases, this sensitivity is only temporary.* If you are experiencing sensitivity during a whitening treatment, let your dental health professional know so they can take measures to reduce the pain.

Pre- and Post-Procedure Care Tips for Tooth Sensitivity

Brushing twice a day with a desensitizing toothpaste like Sensodyne can help relieve and also protect against sensitivity pain. In addition, remember to practice good oral care habits, like flossing daily, using a soft-bristled or electric toothbrush and eating a balanced diet to limit sugary beverages and snacks, to help maintain healthy teeth. Try to avoid brushing too hard, as this can also damage the teeth and increase sensitivity.

procedure care tips

*If sensitivity does not subside after 2 to 4 weeks following one of these procedures, be sure to speak to your dentist.

Source Citations:

  1. Visiting a dental hygienist or dental therapist. Oral Health Foundation. https://www.dentalhealth.org/visiting-a-dental-hygienist-or-dental-therapist Accessed 6/12/2023.
  2. Dental cavities. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001055.htm Accessed 6/12/2023.