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EXCRUCIATING pain during filling



I have just come back from the dentist physically shaking - and I have to go back again because it is not finished. And I should mention that I have a very good pain threshold - I can put up with a lot before it bothers me.

I had a niggly tooth, lower - 2nd from back, and mentioned it foolishly to my new dentist. He could not see anything wrong with it, just like my previous dentist and I had told him about it for at least 3 years. My new dentist x-rayed the area, and when he zoomed in quite a lot, he said he thought he could see a TINY hole in between the back 2 teeth. The tooth used to give me a shooting pain if it had hot/cold/air touch the area - but rarely as I had adjusted and if I put my tongue on the area it stopped straight away.

When I went to get it filled today, I had the injection for that tooth and another on the other side. When he started to do the sore tooth he had to stop, because the air from the sucker made me jump from the pain. So he gave me 2 more needles and worked on the other one which was fine. When he again went back to the sore tooth, the air hurt it again and he gave me 2 more needles. Then he started drilling, and I could feel EVERYTHING - it hurt like my tooth normally did if irritated. So he gave me more injections. Then tried again. And it was sore but I put up with it until it really zinged me - then we tried again and same thing. So I had more injections (I felt all but 2 of the total injections btw). Then he kept drilling and it became100 times worse than the little zing I got sometimes - it was excruciating and got worse every time. He turned the water off because he thought that might be irritating - but it was the drill I'm sure because the air sucker wasn't bothering me.

So after roughly 10 injections all up, a mouth that I can't feel most of right to my ear, it got more and more painful each time - to the point where the pain lingered after he stopped the drill. And as time ran out, he stopped working on me by filling it with a 'temporary filling' (a hunk of white paste that looks dreadful) and I HAVE TO GO BACK AND ENDURE IT AGAIN UNTIL IT IS DONE!!!!!!! I do not think I can do it - is there ANYTHING I can do to help next time - this feels like a nerve thing to me? Drugs? There has to be something!!!

(it is now 2 hours since I left the surgery and I still do not have feeling returning on that side of my mouth btw - the other one has been fine for at least an hour and a half but this one doesn't seem to be easing off at all yet)

Please help. :confused:


Hi Sally - sorry to hear you had such a bad experience :(.

And it was sore but I put up with it until it really zinged me - then we tried again and same thing. So I had more injections (I felt all but 2 of the total injections btw).

I think it's generally a bad idea to proceed if you're not completely numb. But from your description (and I may be totally wrong) it sounded to me as if you gave the "go ahead"? My advice for the future would be not to go ahead with any dental procedures if you don't get numb(ed) for some reason.

Not finding the right spot can happen to any dentist occasionally, but you can always come back and try again on another day... rather than put up with it.

Also, stress and anxiety (and you may have been getting anxious after repeated attempts to get you numb failed) can reduce the effectiveness of local anaesthesia.

I wouldn't worry about still being numb for some time afterwards, that's normal after so many injections.

I did find turning off the water spray a bit weird, though.

I don't know how you feel about this dentist, but if you've lost your trust in him, I would recommend finding someone else (it's usually a good idea not to let them know that you have a high pain threshold, lol ;). He doesn't sound like the most, err, painless guy if you felt all but 2 injections and had no problems like this in the past.


Thanks for your response. My dentist is not aware of my pain threshold - I wouldn't dare tell him! And he said he turned the water off because he thought the cold water was what was causing the pain because I had 'sensitive' teeth (even though he had done another filling a minute earlier that was fine).

When the dentist started drilling my mouth was numb so I assumed it would be fine. I didn't realise it would be painful when he started - and towards the end, and even now, I am thinking that maybe there are certain things that just don't go numb - and that is what is freaking me out about going back??? If it is a nerve, should it go numb because this one got worse every time he touched it, despite more injections.

My mouth took about 6 hours before it started to feel normal after all those injections. I have had a similar thing happen before with another dentist where I could feel a little during drilling, and both times he gave me one more injection and everything was fine. This time was extreme and the pain was nothing like I have ever experienced.

It is now 5 days later btw - and along my jawbone it still feels badly bruised when touched....I assumed this might be because of the injections? The day after that side of my mouth was swollen a little inside, but not sore inside apart from a dull zing from that tooth that continued for most of the day - it has settled a bit but comes and goes.

So, my questions if you have a chance to answer:
1. Is it possible that this particular pain will not go numb, despite the number/placement of injections?

2. Will the dull zinging pain from that tooth settle down or am I stuck with it for good? (it would have been better left alone I think)

3. Is bruising normal with that many injections (never had an after-affect from injections before).

4. Is it possible to react to the anaesthetic? (I had a very high temperature, chills and was not very well that night - people I live with put it down to the anaesthetic reacting??)

Thanks, Sally


Hi there,

Unfortunately there are times when a tooth will just not go numb. Usually additional injections either in the same site or elsewhere, possibly of a different anaesthetic will do the trick.

In those circumstances when nothing seems to work, the best thing is to place a dressing and reschedule. It doesn't happen very often, but if there isn't good communication between the dentist and patient, the patient can be left wondering what is going on or that they were somehow to blame. Obviously the alternative is to keep going with the filling if the patient is able to tolerate any mild discomfort.

It is possible that because the nerve had responded to a painful stimulus, and reacted so severely, the further anaesthtic wasn't enough to then make it numb. It is often the case that it is more difficult to reduce or remove a pain once it has already started. Next time this tooth is to be worked on take some painkillers before your appointment and ask the dentist to give you extra anaesthetic before drilling (if it is a lower tooth it would be a good idea to have a 'block' as well as an infiltration.

Answers to Qs:
1) Unlikely- most of the time it is possible to get things numb enough. Just because this happend this time doesn't mean it will happen again. If a nerve is dying in a tooth, it sometimes becomes 'hyperaemic'. In this senario the tooth does become hypersensitive, and is very difficult to get numb. (this only usually happens if the dentist is attempting root treatment, rather than just a filling, but it is worth mentioning). A sedative dresssing usually helps it to settle before further treatment is carried out at a future visit. Sometimes the tooth has to be dressed 2 or 3 times before it settles down enough that it can be fully numbed for the root treatment.
2) The 'zing' should settle, however again, it may be a sign that the nerve inside the tooth is dying. (Please remember that without seeing the tooth this is only me voicing what could be a possibility). In that case the tooth would obviously need either root treatment or extraction. On the other hand it is entirely possible that the nerve may just be a little bruised, and may settle down and recover. Time will tell.
3) It is possible to be a little bruised, especially after several injections. Sometimes while injecting some of the little blood vessels leak out a little blood into the tissues, resuling in the bruising later. So yes, it can happen and it doesn't mean that the dentist did anything wrong or that there is anything to worry about.
4) Reactions to anaesthetics are rare. I suspect that your response was more likely due to the stress of your day, and was your body's way of telling you that it wasn't too happy. (I think that you probably knew that it wasn't too happy anyway!!).

I hope that this helps.
Kind regards,


Jan 8, 2006
I had the same thing happen with a tooth.An infected tooth wont freeze either even if it cant be seen on xray.Ask to be put on clyndmiacin,the tooth is likely dying and needs a root canal.


Junior member
Jun 30, 2006
I'm new to this site and posted re a similar problem on another part of it (The New Members, and your ental questions answered). I had local anaesthetic plus sedation, and when they tried to to take my tooth out, the net result of all this pharmaecological intervention appeared to be nil. The pain was utterly readful, the worst ever. They had to leave it, but they're going to have another go in a week, Oh Joy!

A few questions - What is a sedative dressing? How can I tell if the nerve has died? What is the dentists likely reaction if I try to advise them on anaesthetics? Also, I have an adverse reaction to almost all anti-biotics, is the one mentioned in the previous post to be recommended?

thanks - mark.


Junior member
Dec 4, 2006
A story like yours finally moved me to go to Mexico and have my dental work done in a hospital with general anesthesia. It was a piece of cake compared to the suffering from my previous attempts. Next time, I will book a two week vacation in Ensenada.

I no longer think there is a cure for this phobia problem that works for everybody. No matter how well you try to take care of your teeth, age alone seems to create dental crises. Dentists, like every professional, get used to what they see all the time and what dentists see all the time is pain and fear and bad dental conditions from the previous dentist.

I was hoping there were more new products but I can see from roaming the site that if you have a severe phobia with lots of history of average procedures causing tremendous pain, it's better to go with the big guns right away. Stop the suffering.
I wish there were affordable dentists in America too but that's another story. The attitudes are different in Mexico.