Why does my tooth hurt to bite on it?

13th March 2024

One of the most common problems people will experience is pain from a tooth when biting down on it. There are actually a few reasons why it might be happening so in a series of short blogs we’ll try and explore each possibility for you.

As ever, we’re really just trying to give you an idea of what might be happening so you can better understand what your dentist has to say; as with all dental problems you should speak to your dental professional for advice.

In this mini-series of blogs we’ll cover the following possible causes of pain on biting:

  • Cracked tooth
  • Abscess
  • Clenching/grinding
  • Cavity
  • Sinus problems

Cracked teeth are perhaps the most common cause of pain on biting, but the symptoms of the various causes are usually subtly different so hopefully you’ll have a better idea once you’ve read these blogs.

My tooth hurts to bite on – have I cracked my tooth?

In the first of our mini-series we’ll look at cracked teeth.

This is perhaps the most common cause of pain on biting and there are some fairly specific symptoms you might experience which help point you towards this problem.

Firstly, and the main characteristic of this problem, is a sharp/shooting pain through a tooth either on biting something (usually something hard), or on something to burst or releasing the pressure on something. It’s quite an intense pain but only lasts for the moment of biting or release. There can be a secondary pain afterwards, especially if the crack is quite large.

We usually see cracks in teeth that already have fillings in them. We see it most if you have larger fillings or older metal fillings; the pain comes from hairline cracks in the weakened enamel surrounding the filling flexing under pressure or on release of pressure.
It’s usually a very localised pain and is often fairly easy to track down by testing each tooth on biting.

Many cracks can be treated either by replacing older fillings and sealing the biting surface with either new tooth-coloured fillings, or for more heavily cracked teeth by using crowns (or “caps”) to hold a tooth together.

Some cracks can be extremely problematic and can have an impact on the health of the nerve of a tooth, or even cause a tooth to split completely so early assessment is always important.

As ever, speak to your dentist first and they should be able to give you the advice and help you need.


Showing cracked tooth
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