I Just Got a Filling, So Why Do I Have Jaw Pain?

I Just Got a Filling, So Why Do I Have Jaw Pain?
Author: Posted: September 9th, 2022 Category:

Jaw pain after a filling happens often, so you’re not alone! Luckily, it can be prevented and treated.

A filling is supposed to stop a toothache. After all, that’s the reason you get a cavity treated in the first place! So why do you still have jaw pain after a filling?

It’s normal for the filled tooth and the surrounding gums to feel a bit sore for a day or two following the procedure. But if the pain radiates from your jaw and persists for weeks, your dentist can re-examine your mouth to determine what may be causing the discomfort. With some help from your dentist, you can get relief from jaw pain.

Here’s why you may have jaw pain after a filling

While your tooth and gums will feel sensitive after treatment, you may also experience jaw pain. It can happen for several reasons, such as:

Muscle fatigue. When the dentist fills your cavity, you must keep your mouth open for a long time, which can exhaust the muscles. You may start feeling muscle spasms in the jaw.

If you suffer from temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ), a syndrome characterized by jaw pain and stiffness, your dental work may trigger more pain. A bite block can hold your mouth open without straining your muscles. Muscle fatigue typically occurs after more extensive dental procedures, such as a root canal. It can last a few days. 

Trismus. If your jaw tightens up after the procedure, you may be experiencing a condition known as trismus or “lockjaw.” You may experience pain, muscle spasms, and difficulty opening your mouth. The pain might result from the anesthetic needle or muscle fatigue caused by an extended period of holding your mouth open. 

Trismus usually occurs about two to three days after the procedure and is centered on the side of the face where you received the treatment. It should resolve in about two weeks. You can eat a soft diet and take pain-reducing medications and muscle relaxers to relieve the pain. Physical therapy, gentle stretching exercises, massages, or a jaw-stretching device can help, too.

Referred to myofascial pain. Dental work can sometimes irritate nerves in the tissues outside the mouth. The condition can cause earaches and pain around the eyes. You may also feel like your muscles are knotted. 

Referred to myofascial pain, while common, cannot be prevented. However, you can treat it with trigger point injections and physical therapy.

Uneven filling. An uneven or jagged filling surface can lead to an abnormal bite, which in turn causes jaw pain. The tooth or filling may also have cracked. Your dentist can smooth the filling’s surface or replace it to improve your bite.

How do I prevent jaw pain?

As detailed previously, physical therapy and pain medication can help alleviate jaw pain. You can also take these measures to reduce the risk of jaw pain before, during, and after the dental procedure:

Take a break during the procedure. If you feel your muscles getting tired and achy, ask your dentist to take a short break during the procedure. It will give your muscles time to relax.

Use a bite block. A small rubber bite block keeps your mouth open but not in a forceful way. The bite block works for your muscles by gently stretching your mouth open so they’re not overly taxed.

Treat your bruxism. If you grind your teeth during the night (bruxism), you may be more susceptible to jaw pain after a filling. Work with your dentist to treat bruxism to lessen your chance of a painful jaw. 

Try to relax. If dental procedures normally make you tense, try to relax beforehand by getting enough rest or practicing mindfulness. Listen to music or have the dentist turn on a favorite TV show during the procedure. When you’re relaxed, your muscles will be loose and less likely to tighten up.

Make your dental appointment with Espire!

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Mission Valley, California, location today! Our highly trained dentists will ensure your appointments are as pain-free as possible. Don’t live near our Mission Valley, California, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Mission Valley, CA
8989 Rio San Diego Drive
Suite 170
San Diego, CA 92108