Do fillings hurt without an injection?

This blog post will address the topic, “do fillings hurt without an injection” and cover topics like why do fillings hurt without an injection, what are the various numbing agents used in a filling process, how long does it take to complete a dental filling, how do you stay calm during a cavity filling, discomforts after getting a dental filling, how long should you wait to eat after getting your filling done and how can you stop tooth decay once it starts.

Do Fillings Hurt Without An Injection?

Yes, fillings hurt when no anaesthetic injection is given before the start of the drilling process and this is the reason why almost all fillings involve injection in the first step.

It is very rare that your dentist will begin the filling procedure without any anaesthesia or numbing agent.

Why Do Fillings Hurt Without An Injection?

Fillings hurt without an injection because your tooth contains pulp tissue which is highly vascularized and innervated.

Drilling process irritates the nerve endings present in the dentin and pulp, causing pain, sensitivity and discomfort.

Local anesthetic injection numbs the nerves and thus minimizes or eliminates the pain and discomfort associated with the filling process.

What Are The Various Numbing Agents Used In A Filling Process?

Agents used for numbing in a filling process or in any dental procedure that involves numbing are called local anaesthesia.

Use of numbing agents or local anaesthetics depend upon the choice of your dentist.

It is suggested that you must inform your dentist about any allergic reactions that you may have experienced in the past to any of the local anaesthetics.

Some of the commonly used agents for local anesthesia are:


Also called as lignocaine, it is the most commonly used local and topical anesthetic agent. 

It takes as long as 8-9 minutes to numb the tooth and the numbing effect lasts for almost an hour, as per a study.


4% articaine is found to numb the tooth faster and the numbing effect also lasts longer as compared to lidocaine, reported a study.


It is most commonly used as a topical anesthetic agent in children above 2 years of age and adults of all age groups.

It takes less than a minute to numb the soft oral tissues and lasts only for 5-10 minutes.

How Long Does It Take to Complete A Dental Filling?

Dental filling is the use of various materials to fill the hole in the teeth called cavities. 

It takes almost an hour or less to fill a single cavity.

In case of multiple cavities, the dentist might give you multiple appointments.

For a filling, your dentist may proceed with the following steps:

  1. A local anesthetic is used in the first step to numb the soft tissues around the tooth that needs filling. This is essential to give painless dental care.
  1. Removal of the decayed area of the tooth that needs filling using rotary instruments, or a laser.
  1. Probing to confirm removal of all decayed parts of the tooth that needs filling.
  1. After complete removal of the decayed part, cavity preparation is done by cleaning the bacteria and other debris produced during decay removal.
  1. Liners are applied for nerve protection if the decay has advanced to the root and might irritate the nerve endings.
  1. If you have opted for a tooth colored composite material for filling, then your dentist will apply the composite in layers and use a special blue light called “curing” to harden the composite material applied.
  1. Finally, trimming and polishing is done and the filling process is complete.

How do you stay calm during a cavity filling?

For you to stay calm during a cavity filling, your dentist will numb your tooth that is going to be drilled for filling.

If you feel anxious even after numbing, for you to stay calm, your dentist might recommend sedation and make you go to sleep.

However, sedation is not always recommended for all and may be contraindicated in patients with other disorders or comorbidities.

Discomforts After Getting A Dental Filling


Just after the filling is complete, you may feel numb till the effect of local anaesthesia wears off.

Tooth Sensitivity, Pain And Pressure On Biting

Tooth sensitivity after getting a filling done is not uncommon and it may fade away in 1-2 weeks.

Sometimes, the trimming and polishing part is not done accurately, which leaves the filling too high, causing pain and pressure on biting.

This can be corrected by the dentist in no time and will help you to quickly come out of discomfort.

Galvanic Shock

Mostly seen with amalgam fillings, galvanic shock is a type of electric shock in the mouth, produced when two metal fillings touch each other.

All pain and sensitivity might take 2 weeks to subside. If it does not disappear even after 2 weeks, it is recommended to consult your dentist.

How Long Should You Wait To Eat After Getting Your Filling Done?

It is a common question in every patient’s mind and the answer is not that simple. It depends on the following factors:

Filling Type

Amalgam filling takes almost 24 hours to harden and therefore you can only start eating after 24 hours.

Composite hardens as soon as you leave the dental chair and therefore you can eat once the local anesthetic wears off.

Local anesthetic

Local anesthetic applied during the filling process makes the entire procedure pain free as it numbs the surrounding soft tissues.

The numbness takes almost 1 to 3 hours to go away and therefore you must eat after the numbness has subsided.

If you eat when your mouth is still numb, the risk of chewing and damaging your tongue, cheeks and lips increases.

Hence, it is advised to eat only after the numbness in your mouth disappears.

Discomfort After Filling

It is quite normal to face some discomfort like pain and pressure upon biting after filling or soreness in the gums.

Such discomfort may disturb your mood and hasten your desire to eat.

Over the counter pain killer and salt water rinse will help in comforting you.

Sensitivity After Filling

Eating or drinking too hot or cold might cause sensitivity and interrupt your happy eating hours. 

This is temporary and will subside in coming weeks after filling and till then it is advised to avoid too hot or cold food or drinks and also foods that are causing sensitivity.

Biting Difficulty After Filling

Sometimes, the trimming and polishing part is not done accurately, which leaves the filling too high, causing pain and pressure on biting.

This can be corrected by the dentist in no time and will help you to quickly come out of discomfort.

5 Precautions While Eating After A Filling

After a filling, you might feel some discomfort and need to follow the following to get some relief:

  1. Chew on the opposite side of the new filling with minimum pressure
  1. Eat Soft Foods as hard food puts a lot of pressure on the teeth surface causing discomfort to increase.
  1. Do not eat foods that are sticky in nature as it may stick to your new filling and dislodge it. This mostly happens with amalgam fillings.
  1. Eat slowly as this will put less pressure on the tooth and relieve the discomfort.
  1. Do not eat or drink anything that might trigger tooth sensitivity. Too hot, too cold or sugar rich foods and drinks must be kept away from your palate.

All the above tips might relieve the discomfort caused after filling.

However, your dentist is the best person to give you suggestions based on the type of your filling material and your overall oral hygiene.

How Can You Stop Tooth Decay Once It Starts?

If the cavity is just in its initial stage where the white spot is visible on the tooth, it is the time to take preventive actions such as toothbrushing, mouth washing and flossing daily.

At stage one, when the white spot has just appeared, the cavity can be reversed with proper oral hygiene and eating some mineral and vitamin rich foods.



It is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) to  brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with a toothpaste containing fluoride. 

It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning, just after waking up and once at night, just before going to bed.

You must also clean your teeth and gums, each time after you have food but not with a toothbrush. Simple rinse with water is considered good for overall oral health and hygiene.

Following this tooth brushing habit will help you prevent cavity formation in the first place and also reverse a small cavity naturally in its earliest stage.

Use a fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride can greatly help achieve oral and dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. 

Fluoride reduces the amount of acid produced by the bacteria on your mouth and also helps the cavity in its earliest stage to repair and reverse. 

Floss Daily To Get Maximum Benefits Out Of Tooth Brushing

Many people, despite knowing the benefits of flossing daily, just neglect it.

According to a study, flossing is highly effective in reducing the interproximal caries risk. 

Daily floss can help stimulate your gums and reduce plaque leading to lesser inflammation risk and increased healing process of the cavity in its earliest stage.

Consider mouthwash

Therapeutic Mouthwashes contain ADA listed active ingredients such as fluoride, peroxide, essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride, and chlorhexidine, preventing cavities from forming and naturally healing and reversing the formed cavity in its earliest stage.

Therapeutic mouthwashes as the name suggests have therapeutic action and control dental conditions like gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontal diseases. They also help remove halitosis.

Consult Your Dentist For Regular Check-up

It is important to get your oral health checked twice every year with an interval of 6 months between two visits.

Your dentist can help remove calculus and locate cavities and will also be able to spot potential oral health issues, if any, and offer treatment solutions.

Fluoride treatments initiated in the earliest stages of tooth cavity may help it to reverse and heal.

Eat Foods Rich In Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus And Vitamins To Reverse Cavities Naturally

Calcium plays an important role in enamel remineralization and saliva production. The remineralization process is essential for the cavity to reverse naturally.

You can try calcium rich foods like cauliflower, nuts, salmon and figs.

Magnesium deficiency will lead to enamel demineralization and weakening of the enamel, halting the natural healing of the cavity.

Leafy green vegetables, avocado and squash seeds are some magnesium rich foods that you can consider.

Foods like meat, eggs and dairy products are rich in phosphorus and help in naturally healing the cavity in its earliest stage.

Vitamin D is essential for calcium and phosphorus absorption in the body and its deficiency eventually wastes the calcium you intake.

Spending a few minutes in the morning sun gives an adequate amount of vitamin D to the body. However, foods like fish and egg yolks are rich vitamin D sources.


This blog post addressed the topic, “do fillings hurt without an injection”. We understood why fillings hurt without an injection, what are the various numbing agents used in a filling process, how long does it take to complete a dental filling and how do you stay calm during a cavity filling.

The article outlined discomforts after getting a dental filling, how long you should wait to eat after getting your filling done and how you can stop tooth decay once it starts.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Do Fillings Hurt Without An Injection?

Do you always need an injection for a filling?

You may not always need an injection for a filling. Your dentist might not use an injection of local anesthesia if the cavity is too small and no nerve endings are exposed.

However, the vibrations of drilling might discomfort you and you may be given a topical anesthetic spray.

Do fillings for cavities hurt after?

Yes! It is normal for your tooth to hurt after filling.

The nerves inside the tooth become inflamed after the filling, causing sensitivity and pain.

The pain, sensitivity and pressure on biting will eventually subside in 1-2 weeks.

How do cavities heal without fillings?

Cavities heal without fillings with the use of a new treatment called silver diamine fluoride (SDF).

Silver Diamine Fluoride is a liquid that can be applied to halt the progress of cavities in all age groups.

A 2009 published study recommends 38% SDF in cases where restorative treatment is not an option.

However, it may not be helpful in cases of pain and sensitivity due to pulpal infection.

Why do cavities turn black?

Cavities turn black once they spread and invade the dentin. Dentin is naturally darker than enamel and hence when it is exposed by the cavity, the tooth appears darker or black or sometimes brown.

Cavities turning black is an indication that it is progressing and if not treated may reach pulp causing pulpal infection, pain and sensitivity.

Can My Dentist Tell If I Use Coke?

Yes, your dentist might identify that you are using cocaine with the help of certain signs such as nasal septum damage or perforation, or perforation of palate, or lesions on the gingiva and eroded tooth surface.

Your dentist might postpone any dental procedure for 6-24 hours if he comes to know that you have used cocaine before visiting the clinic.

Other FAQs about Teeth Filling that you may be interested in.

Do fillings destroy teeth?

Can I Eat After A White Filling

What Can I Eat After Tooth Filling


Do Fillings Hurt? Types of Fillings, Numbing, Prevention & More

What Is a Filling? Colgate

Dental Health and Tooth Fillings. (2019)

Chewing Tips After A Filling. Colgate

Decloux, Derek, and Aviv Ouanounou. “Local anaesthesia in dentistry: a review.” International Dental Journal (2021).

Williamson R. Clinical management of galvanic current between gold and amalgam. Gen Dent. 1996;44(1):70-73.

Can You Cure Tooth Decay (Cavities) Naturally?

Yee, R., et al. “Efficacy of Silver Diamine Fluoride for Arresting Caries Treatment.” Journal of Dental Research, vol. 88, no. 7, July 2009, pp. 644–647, doi:10.1177/0022034509338671.

Brand, H., Gonggrijp, S. & Blanksma, C. Cocaine and oral health. Br Dent J 204, 365–369 (2008).

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