Pain with Composite Fillings

I had to get four fillings on my back teeth. One of them is fine, but three of them are giving me a lot of pain when I am chewing. The weird thing is there is not pain when I just bite down. it’s the chewing that is the problem. My dentist has checked the bite and says it is fine. Now she’s talking about removing the fillings and doing a root canal. I don’t want to do that if it is not necessary. I don’t want to lose teeth over small cavities. I feel like I need someone with more expertise here. What do you recommend I do?


Dear Evelyn,

Left: silver amalgam filling Right: mercury-free composite filling

I agree that you need someone with more expertise. When there is pain with chewing as opposed to pain with biting, the problem is the way the fillings were bonded on.

Most dental schools are still teaching dentists to put amalgam fillings on posterior teeth. Before that, they were only teaching amalgam fillings. Unfortunately, the method for placing amalgam (silver) and composite (white) fillings are quite different. If a dentist wants to place white fillings, they have to take post-doctoral training in the correct procedures to do so.

I would not have your dentist be the one to re-do these. First, three-fourths of them have this problem, which tells me she does not understand this bonding method. Second, she’s already bringing up a root canal treatment, which tells me she’s sort of giving up on these teeth.

My suggestion is you look for a mercury-free dentist. They will have much more experience placing white fillings on posterior teeth.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

What if Dentures are All I Can Afford?

I have absolutely horrible teeth. Like the worst. I’ve had 9 months of throwing up with four different pregnancies and then cancer to deal with. My teeth are literally crumbling and dental insurance only covers $1000 per year. I don’t have any significant “extra” money after the necessary bills are paid. I keep hearing dentures are the worst possible thing to get, but I don’t know what else to do. I broke a tooth yesterday while flossing. That’s what I get for trying to take care of my teeth. Will it really be that awful if dentures are all I can afford?


Dear Macy,

snap on dentures
Snap-on Dentures

You are in a tough situation. I’ll give you the best advice I can. Dentures are more devastating on the bottom arch than the top, so if you are left having to decide what to save and what not to, save the bottom teeth at much as possible. The reason for that is the bone loss in your jaw.

Once the roots of your teeth are removed your body recognized that and begins to resorb the minerals in your jawbone in order to use them elsewhere throughout your body where they may be more necessary. After ten to twenty years, depending on the speed at which your body does things, you will no longer have enough jawbone to retain your denture. This is a condition dentists call facial collapse.

If it turns out that you do need to lose your bottom teeth as well, see if you can get any dental implants for the bottom arch. These are expensive, but affordable dentists will be more willing to work with you on payments, especially if they know your situation.

There are snap-on dentures (pictured above) which can use as few as two dental implants. This has the benefit of securing your denture to your bottom arch, plus anywhere you have a dental implant, the minerals in your bone will be left alone, thereby protecting that particular area from bone loss.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.