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John P. Goodman DDS

Why Does it Hurt When I Chew? Dental Pain and Chewing

By Dr. John Goodman on September 27, 2016

A woman with a healthy smile sitting in a dental chair Dental pain when chewing is often a sign of an underlying oral health problem and should not be ignored. Restorative dentistry treatments can restore oral health, helping to alleviate dental pain and protect the smile from further damage. If dental pain is keeping you from eating, it's time to seek treatment. To find out why you experience dental pain when chewing, and to discover your treatment options, schedule a consultation with Kansas City, MO dentist John P. Goodman.

What Causes Dental Pain When Chewing?

Dental pain is one way in which the body alerts us to an underlying problem. Dental pain when chewing is of particular concern because it can be an indication of tooth decay or an infection of the dental nerve, both of which can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. There are many oral health issues that can cause dental pain when chewing, including:

  • Tooth decay: Tooth decay occurs when acids and bacteria from plaque dissolve the enamel. Cavities, or small holes, may form within the enamel and dentin layers of the teeth, increasing dental sensitivity and causing pain when eating.
  • Root canal infection: Untreated tooth decay or dental fractures can allow bacteria to reach the internal structures of the teeth, leading to the development of a root canal infection. A root canal infection affects the tissues within the teeth. These tissues include the tooth's nerves and blood vessels, which regulate dental sensitivity and nourish the teeth. When the nerves become infected, biting down and chewing can be extremely painful.
  • Abscess: An abscess may form around a tooth's roots or through the gums as a result of an oral infection, most commonly a root canal infection or gum disease. These pockets of pus become more painful as they grow, especially when pressure is applied to them, making eating and chewing difficult.
  • Loose filling: A loose filling can allow bacteria to reach the nerve tissues within a tooth, resulting in pain when chewing.
  • Cracked tooth: A cracked tooth is another potential cause of dental pain when chewing. A cracked or fractured tooth may cause pain by allowing bacteria to reach and infect the internal nerves of a tooth, or the broken tooth itself may press on the nerves, causing pain when biting or chewing.

Dental Treatments to Relieve Pain when Chewing

In order to determine the proper treatment to alleviate dental pain while chewing, it's essential to undergo a dental exam. Once the cause of dental pain is determined, we may perform treatments such as:

  • Root canal therapy: Root canal therapy is highly effective at treating root canal infections and can help alleviate dental pain and restore oral health.
  • Tooth-colored dental fillings: Old, loose fillings or new cavities may be treated with tooth-colored fillings to repair dental damage.
  • Dental crowns: Broken teeth or teeth with large fillings often benefit from dental crown treatment. Dental crowns are tooth-shaped restorations that encase damaged teeth to preserve vulnerable teeth and restore dental health.
  • Tooth extraction: In some cases, decay, damage, or root canal infections are too severe to treat with the above options and extraction must be performed to restore oral health.

Learn More about Your Treatment Options

If you suffer from dental pain and would like to learn more about your treatment options, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Goodman.

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