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Pain After Dental Work? Here Are a Few Reasons Why

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woman with mouth pain in dentist office

You probably expect your mouth to feel a little tender after a dental procedure. But you may not have anticipated a locked jaw, nausea, or clogged ears following treatment. And even if you experience some swelling and soreness, sometimes it’s hard to tell what symptoms are normal, and which ones require a consultation with the dentist. 

Below are some of the more common issues people may experience after receiving restorative dental care. Please remember to talk to your dentist if you’re having pain or noticing what seems like unusual symptoms. This information is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical care.  

Ear Pain After Dental Work 

If you’re experiencing pain in your ears or hearing ringing sounds, it can be related to muscle strain after having your mouth open during treatment. You may also have an infection, your teeth may not be aligning properly, or you may have a cold or allergy that’s causing the symptoms. 

Increasing Tongue or Cheek Pain After an Extraction 

If pain suddenly worsens several days following an extraction, you may have what is called “dry socket,” which occurs when a blood clot doesn’t form or is dislodged after an extraction. Without the clot, your nerve endings and bone near the extraction site are exposed to air, food, and liquids, causing significant pain. 

To help relieve the pain, your dentist may place a medicated dressing in the socket. You might need to change the dressing daily or every two days, or you may get a dressing that stays in and dissolves over time. Your dentist might also prescribe you antibiotics or pain medication.  

Jaw Pain After Dental Work 

Any dental procedure that requires you to keep your mouth open for an extended period can result in soreness and stiffness due to muscle strain. A slightly sore jaw is normal following dental treatment, but if the pain is severe, call your dentist. They may suggest warm, moist compresses and gentle stretching exercises. 

If you notice you’re having problems opening and closing your mouth, or that your jaw sometimes feels frozen in place, you may have a condition called trismus. This can be caused by a muscle injury following a dental injection, particularly when treating your lower teeth. It can also be caused by the effects of the local anesthetic solution or by muscle tremors due to jaw strain. Typically, trismus may last for two to three weeks. The treatment for trismus is the same for sore jaws, but in more severe cases, you may need muscle relaxants. 

You may also experience jaw pain after a filling. The process used to affix and harden white fillings — dental glue and UV light treatment — results in shrinkage of the composite filling material. This can cause a sensation of pressure in your tooth and sensitivity when you bite down. The problem should solve itself within a few weeks, but if you’re uncomfortable or experiencing pressure with a throbbing sensation, check in with your dentist. 

When to See a Dentist About Pain After Dental Work 

We’ve listed some of the more common issues and their causes but remember that your best dental health resource will always be your own dentist. Call your dentist if you’re experiencing pain, bleeding, swelling, or other discomforts or concerns after treatment, and follow the aftercare instructions you received from your dentist to avoid many common complications. 

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The Importance of Preventive Care 

Skipping dental checkups and cleanings can often result in the need for restorative care, and the longer you delay, the more expensive and complicated it is to get your smile back in shape. We know that sometimes dental care can seem out of reach. But there are options. If you’ve been delaying dental care due to anticipated high costs, you’ll want to investigate dental savings plans. Plan members report an average savings of 50%* on their dental care. 

Dental savings plans are a trusted alternative to dental insurance that activate quickly and (unlike dental insurance) have no annual limits on how much you can save. There are also no restrictions on current health conditions. Just use your plan as often as you need to – it’s that simple. 

You can easily explore all your savings options at DentalPlans.com, the largest dental plan marketplace, with more than 25 plans from trusted brands in healthcare. And we make it simple to join the plan that’s right for you – call us today at 1-833-735-0399.   

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*Discount Health Program consumer and provider surveys indicate average savings of 50%. Savings may vary by provider, location, and plan. 
All cost averages obtained from the DentalPlans.com procedure search tool, and independent research.

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