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Dentistry/Sensitive Filling


10 days ago I got a cracked white filling re-filled in my back bottom tooth, and since then I cannot chew on the side of the filling because it hurts. It doesn't hurt when I clench my jaw, only when I try to chew. It is also sensitive to hot and cold. I know that new fillings can be sensitive, but I am really worried because this is the only filling I've ever had any pain or sensitivity with. I've been looking online, and I've seen quite a few people saying the same thing happened to them, and they ended up having to get a root canal to get rid of the pain! I cannot afford a root canal right now. I am getting married in a month and will be off of my parent's dental insurance, which is the whole reason I wanted to get a check up while I could. I take really good care of my teeth so I knew if I needed any work done it would only be to fix old fillings, but now I'm worried if I go back and tell my dentist my filling is bothering me he will tell me I need a root canal! I don't think the filling is too high because my bite feels perfectly fine.

ANSWER: Dear Emily,

It may be that you need a root canal.  Once in a great while (about 5% of the time), just cleaning out the decay and refilling the tooth can cause enough irritation to the nerve to cause enough sensitivity to lead to the need for root canal. However, since you can feel sensitivity to hot and cold, there is still chance that your sensitivity will go away.  Try a soft diet for one week and take 2 Advil every 6 hours for five days.  If after one week on this regimen the sensitivity is not gone, plan on a root canal.  

Good luck.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your response. I will take care of that side of my mouth and hope it heals. I also just bought a night guard to take the pressure off my teeth when I sleep. It is tight enough but my mouth does not lay closed over it. I have to physically move my lips together to touch. Is this normal?


A biteguard is made to protect your teeth from your clenching habit, if you have one.  Because it must fit between your teeth, it holds your bite open so that it can prevent the teeth from touching when you clench.  Because of this, it also adds more distance between the lips.  Some people tolerate this well (usually those with longer or larger lips).  Others do not, so many just sleep with their lips open.

If you watch football at all, you'll notice all the open lips on the players wearing mouthguards.  Often they will remove them between plays to give their mouths and lips a rest.


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Howard Finnk, D.D.S., P.A., CEO


I am a Family, Implant and Cosmetic dentist. I will answer questions on any aspect of dentistry and matters relating to the smile, gums, jaws and lower face. Member American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, and Atlantic Coast District Dental Association. I have served as District Council Member of Alpha Omega, as well as serving for one term as its President. I am also a member of The Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, and Mount Sinai Hospital Guild. I have served as a Volunteer for Project Dental Health and The Tri-County Dental Health Council.


Having attained over 30 years of clinical experience in private practice in Michigan, in 2001 I was re-certified by taking and passing the Florida State Dental Board Examination. After moving to Florida, I spent nearly 10 years re-honing my skills while working as an Associate Dentist for several large dental groups. In September, 2004, I was appointed Adjunct Clinical Professor at Nova University's College of Dental Medicine. I am certified in placement of Mini Dental Implants, and I am Director of The Florida Implant Center ( On March 1, 2010, at the age of 62, I began all over again by buying a dental practice near my home in the Fort Lauderdale area. As sole owner and Chief Dental Officer of the new Nob Hill Dental Center (, I can now carefully provide dental care to patients who care, all within a caring, joyful environment. Over my career lifetime, I have provided thousands of diagnoses, fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, periodontal treatments, TMJ therapies, partials, dentures and extractions, and dozens of implants for my patients. The only aspect of dentistry with which I have very little experience is orthodontics.

American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, Atlantic Coast District Dental Society, Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, Alpha Omega Alumni Association, and American Association of Dental Implantologists. Formerly, American Academy of General Dentistry, Michigan Dental Association, Macomb Dental Society, Detroit District Dental Society, Tri-County Dental Health Council (a charitable dental care organization)

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Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Psychology from Wayne State University Doctor of Dental Surgery from University of Detroit College of Dentistry Adjunct Clinical Professor, Special Needs Department, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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