Why Do My Teeth Hurt When I Chew?

TeamDental Trauma, General Dentistry

If you deal with pain when chewing your food, it’s time to see a dentist. Although tooth sensitivity is common, toothaches or pain in your gums should never be ignored.  Here are 8 possible causes of pain in your teeth when you chew.

1. Cavity

Cavities are holes in your teeth caused by tooth decay. Tooth decay results from sugary beverages and snacks, bacteria that build up in your mouth, or less than perfect oral hygiene. Cavities cause pain because bacteria can enter the tiny holes and irritate the pulp and the nerve of the tooth. Cavities will not resolve on their own. You’ll need to see a dentist for a filling, or fluoride treatment if the cavity is caught early enough. 

2. Misalignment of Teeth (Malocclusion)

The medical term for a misaligned bite is malocclusion. Types of misaligned bites include overbite, crossbite, underbite, open bite, or crowded teeth. Misalignment of your teeth may be a cause of pain when chewing, but it is often because your malocclusion is causing other problems such as enamel erosion.  

3. Inflammation and Infection In the Gums (Gingivitis, Periodontitis)

Inflammation or infection in your gums can cause your teeth to hurt when you chew.  Gingivitis leads to swollen, red, irritated gums. You may not feel pain in your gums from gingivitis, but when you chew food, you may experience it in your teeth. If left untreated, gingivitis frequently progresses to periodontitis. Periodontitis often causes extreme tooth pain when chewing. It is a serious gum disease that requires immediate treatment. If you do not seek treatment for periodontitis you risk tooth loss and bone loss in your jaw.

4. Receding Gums, Exposed Roots

When the gum tissue that surrounds your teeth begins to pull away or wear away, your dentist may tell you that you have receding gums. Receding gums are problematic for a couple of reasons. Receding gums create pockets around the bottom of the tooth where bacteria may accumulate, prompting infection. When your gums recede, your tooth root also becomes exposed. The tooth root is very sensitive, so if it is exposed you will undoubtedly experience pain when chewing. 

5. Loose or Cracked Crown

A loose or cracked crown can be the culprit behind the pain you feel when you chew. Likewise, an improperly placed crown can cause discomfort when chewing. If you have severe pain in a tooth with a crown, schedule emergency dental treatment. Crowns that have become slightly loose can often be repaired quickly. However, if you continue to chew on a loose crown, it may crack and require that you replace it. 

6. Loose Filling

A loose filling can be a source of pain when chewing if food is getting caught beneath it. If it is loose and saliva or food is getting stuck underneath, you may have active tooth decay. Moreover, if your filling has developed cracks, you may experience pain when biting down. If you suspect you have a loose filling or have any pain in a tooth that has been filled, schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible.

7. Enamel Erosion

Our tooth enamel is incredibly strong, and durable. However, it is still subject to wear over time. As tooth enamel erodes, you’re likely to experience sensitivity to hot, cold, or sugary foods and beverages. Because the enamel is there to protect the interior of the teeth, any erosion can lead to pain as the interior pulp of your teeth is highly sensitive.  

8. Interior Injury or Damage (Pulp Death or Damage)

A leading cause of tooth pain when chewing is damage or death to the tooth pulp. If the pulp has died (a condition known as pulp necrosis), you may even have a pocket of pus near your tooth root. This can be an extremely painful condition, especially when chewing. See your dentist as soon as possible for any chronic or acute pain when chewing.  

Treatment for Tooth Pain in Little Rock

If you experience any discomfort when chewing, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible. In dentistry, small problems can often be resolved quickly, before they have the opportunity to become more complicated problems. Jones Family Dentistry provides patients of all ages with complete family, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry treatment options. Contact us today to schedule dental appointments for your whole family: 501-225-4555.