The tooth or teeth can hurt for many reasons, for this blog series I thought I would make a few commonly asked questions as to why someone’s teeth might be hurting, and hope to provide some insight into possible reasons, things to look out for and finally, what can be done to alleviate the pain. 

Today, we look at a commonly asked question: “Why Does My Tooth Hurt When I Chew?”

Why Does My Tooth Hurt When I Chew?

Some Possible Reasons:

A tooth can be sore when chewing for many reasons. Below are a few common circumstances that may cause a tooth or teeth to become sore. 

One consideration is age, If the person is very young it could be a deciduous tooth loosening up for the adult tooth to come through. 

However, for adults generally a tooth that is sore to chew on can be a sign that a check-up may be needed. It could for example be an open contact, so the teeth are not close enough together that food is getting stuck between the teeth. This can cause soreness around the gums and subsequently the tooth or teeth. Further, if a tooth has a cavity it can be sore too chew on especially if the cavity is very deep and causing nerve trouble. If a cavity has made its way to the dental nerve, this will elicit a response from the body alerting you that things are not right. 

Another potential issue, is that the tooth may be cracked. A cracked tooth can in some cases give of very vague symptoms; whereas in other circumstances be very specific and sore if bitten on. 

Grinding on the teeth can cause soreness as well, as bruxism causes great stress on the ligaments around the teeth. 

Things to Look Out For:

An important issue is if the pain does not go away. 

If the pain is coming from a baby tooth, generally addressing the symptoms is best. If the tooth is very mobile it usually means it is about to be lost. In some circumstances a baby tooth can be sore because there is a cavity or abscess; if you are unsure it is often best to have it examined. 

In adults if there is an open contact, this is usually found as when you floss the teeth there is no “pop” as the floss comes in and out. It feels loose. If a contact is too loose, food will very easily get stuck. This can be very painful when chewing, and further if it sits there too long it can cause irritation. If you see the gums are red or sore or if the contact feels to loose it is best to get the dentist to check and assess the area. 

Dental cavities can be tricky when determining if there are symptoms or signs. In some cases the tooth may look dark either black or brown, so to watch out for any visual changes. Further if you see any shadows around the tooth. If there is a obvious hole in the tooth. Another, potential sign to look out for is sensitivity to sweet food or in some cases to cold temperature. If treated early a dental cavity may not need a filling. Further if treated while it is still small; a filling may allow for resolution; however, if cavites get to big they can cause many issues. If you are worried about a potential cavity it is best to have you dentist check the area. 

A cracked tooth can sometimes be difficult to find, as cracks are very small. Sometimes under magnification you can see the crack in the tooth. However, one of the most common ways to identify a crack is by identifying if there is any soreness when chewing. If you feel an initial sharp pain on release of chewing this could be a sign of a crack. If you feel a soreness on chewing that is always present or getting worse, it is best to get the dentist to check the area. 

If there is soreness form grinding this can make one or many of the teeth feel sore. In some cases it may be in the morning that you notice the soreness but in somecases, it might be sore throughout the day. This pain is generaly short lived and will go away in more cases. Further, if you are noticing any clicking or soreness of the facial muscles, or if the jaw feels sore; this may be a sign of grinding.

What Can Be Done?

If the baby tooth is about to be exfoliated, it can often be extracted, this generally allows things to resolve fairly quickly. If it is a cavity ideally it would need to be filled. Or if there is a dental abscess it may be best to treat the tooth to resolve the infection or to have the tooth extracted. 

If there is a open contact,  this can often be resolved by tightening the teeth together. This can be done with a new dental filling. Further it can be done with a resin composite filling material. In some cases a dental crown may be necessary.

If there is a dental cavity, it is best to have it filled with restorative material in most cases. If the lesion has not actually caused a physical cavity in the tooth. In some cases the tooth can be remineralized; with for example fluoride and calcium and phosphate. If a filling in needed this can often be done with a white filling material.

If the tooth is cracked; in some circumstances it can be filled with white filling material. In other circumstances it may be best to consider a crown for the tooth. Further in some unfortunate circumstances a very bad crack may mean the tooth needs to be extracted. 

If the true diagnosis is from grinding and the tooth is in good health. This will often resolve with time; however, if it is a chronic issue and there is risk to the teeth in some cases a dental night guard may be of benefit. If the grinding is causing issues with the jaw joint, further treament options may need to be explored. 

There can be many things to consider when a tooth is sore to chew on, and often there are many reasons to account for the pain. The above mentioned some of the possible reasons and potential treatments. It would be best to visit your dentist if you have pain on chewing to determine the cause and the best treatment. 
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Skygate Dental.