Post operative sensitivity


It is not unusual for a patient to experience some pain after dental treatment and in many cases this is normal and will resolve over time. However sometimes the pain may indicate that further treatment is required. The following treatments can often cause some pain:

  • Filling (especially when a large filling)
  • Root canal treatment
  • Extraction
  • Tooth whitening
  • Scale and polish
  • Crown preparation
  • Orthodontic treatment

A general rule of thumb is that if the pain is severe it may be a sign of further issues. However pain after root fillings and extractions can be severe for a time before resolving. If there is swelling, fever then further attention by a dentist or hospital department is DEFINITELY required.

Home care advice

If the post-operative sensitivity is not a sign of further problems then it can be treated quite successfully at home using over the counter products. It is important however to rule out other causes of tooth sensitivity such as high filling, reversible pulpitis, irreversible pulpitis, and cracked tooth syndrome.

  • Painkillers (paracetamol is usually the first option to try) - over 16 year olds can combine paracetamol  with an NSAID (such as Ibuprofen) if necessary.
  • Gels that anaesthetise (numb) the area. They usually contain either Benzocaine e.g  Oragel or lidocaine which is the active ingredient in Anbesol.
  • Natural remedies may offer some relief such as Clove Oil which contains eugenol - a natural anaesthetic and antiseptic. Dentogen contains clove oil in gel form. Or it can be obtained as an essential oil

Toothpastes for sensitive teeth have been around for some time now and continue to improve. They work by forming a microscopic chemical layer over the dentine to prevent the pain occurring. They can also sometime calm down a very sensitive tooth after a deep filling

They can be used as a regular toothpaste as well as rubbed on the root surface of particularly sensitive teeth. Mouthwashes containing fluoride can also reduce the symptoms.

Products that we would recommend for quick relief include: Sensodyne Rapid Relief, Colgate Pro Relief

Other products which may help are fluoride mouthwashes such as FluoriGard and toothpastes with high fluoride such as Duraphat (available on prescription from your dentist)

Written by Andrew Bain BDS MJDF (RCS Eng)
Apr 27, 2020