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Why Does My Tooth Hurt When I Chew?

Why Does My Tooth Hurt When I Chew?

Ever bit down and felt pain shoot through one of your teeth as you tried to chew? Pressure pain in a tooth (also known as a pressure toothache) is typically a sign that something is wrong even if there is no visible damage.

At Margaret Culotta-Norton, DDS, PC, in Washington, DC, Dr. Culotta Norton and Dr. Peter Grinc can identify what is causing your tooth pain and provide treatment, even emergency dentistry if required.

Anatomy of the tooth

Your teeth are much bigger than they look: the part above the gumline is only a fraction of your entire tooth. Below the gumline, the roots of each tooth go deep into the bone of the jaw. Inside each root is pulp surrounding a nerve.

Tooth pain that only appears with pressure, like when you chew, is often caused by damage you can’t even see. Getting quick dental help can help you stop the problem before the pain becomes constant. Here are some of the reasons your tooth might hurt when you chew.

Pulp infections

When there is damage or decay to a tooth that allows bacteria to enter the inside of the tooth, the pulp can get infected. This puts pressure on the nerve, which can result in pain anytime the tooth is put under pressure, such as when you chew or clench your teeth. 

Typically, if you don’t see your dentist swiftly, the pain can increase until it is a constant throb or ache, with stabbing or shooting pain when pressure is applied. The best fix for a pulp infection is a root canal.

We clean out the infected pulp from the tooth root, and replace it with a sterile material before capping the affected tooth with a crown that looks, feels, and functions just like your original tooth surface.

Cracks or cavities

Actual cracking or damage done to a tooth by decay can also result in pain that manifests when you chew. In most cases, drilling out the decay and filling the cavity will help, or repairing the crack by installing a crown to hold the remainder of the tooth together. 

Both cavities and cracks are openings into the interior of the tooth, so getting these issues fixed quickly should be a priority before you end up with infection. Once a tooth is infected, it’s more costly to fix and the risk of losing the tooth altogether is higher.

Gum disease

Gum disease can also cause tooth pain that makes itself known when you chew. Bacteria can collect just below the gumline and cause pockets of infected tissues. Over time, gum disease can progress to the point that these pockets become bigger and the gum starts pulling away from the teeth. 

In advanced stage periodontal disease, bone in the jaw starts to dissolve, and teeth become loose and shift around. The combination of loose teeth and infected gums can lead to pressure pain.

Fixing pressure pain

The best thing you can do if it hurts to chew is to see your dentist as quickly as possible. We can complete an exam and find out if the pain is being caused by damage to the tooth, infected pulp, or diseased gums. Then we’ll apply the right treatment to get you out of pain and help you restore health and balance to your mouth.

In pain? Need help? Call our office at 202-833-1111 or request an appointment online today.

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