My Tooth Hurts When I Bite Down. What Should I Do?

Do you have tooth pain when biting down something hard? Trust me, you are not alone in this. 35% of American young adults have reported difficulty in biting and chewing due to pain. Another study result found that 25-38% of the subjects felt toothache…

Do you have tooth pain when biting down something hard? Trust me, you are not alone in this. 35% of American young adults have reported difficulty in biting and chewing due to pain. Another study result found that 25-38% of the subjects felt toothache with hot, cold, or sweet things. It can happen due to different reasons, including lifestyle, diet, or even smoking.

There is nothing more unsettling than chronic tooth pain. It can disrupt your regular activities like chewing, talking, or worse, a good night’s sleep.

The very first question that comes to your mind must be ‘why is my tooth hurting?’

Well, you are just in the right place. This article will discuss what can possibly trigger such discomfort and what steps you can take till the ball is in your court.

Why is my tooth hurting?

Throbbing toothaches often come with many accompanying symptoms such as sharp pain while biting down, sensitivity to heat or cold, gum inflammation, stinky odor in the mouth, and more. Pinpointing the underlying reason behind the pain will help you find a quick solution.


Tooth decay or cavity is the most common factor causing a lingering toothache. It is a case where the white outer layer of your teeth, the enamel, wears off. The bacteria inside the plaque deposit produces an acid that eats up the enamel, creating a hole in the tooth.

Consequently, the affected tooth becomes sensitive to certain types of food and hurts while chewing. According to ADA, cavities are more prevalent among kids, but aging can be a critical problem for adults.

Fractured tooth

When a piece of your tooth breaks loose and moves every time you eat, it creates severe pain. So, how do you end up with a cracked tooth? It can be due to biting on hard substances, playing any sports without mouthguards, facial trauma from an accident, or a hard blow on the mouth. There are ways to save a chipped or fractured tooth with treatments like polishing, filling, dental crowns, and veneer.

Issues with dental restorations

If your tooth filling is larger than the other teeth’ level and sits a bit high, it will cause malocclusion. The upper and lower teeth won’t fit into each other perfectly when you bite, and toothache is inevitable.

Alternatively, a dental filling can be dislocated or chipped away if you have applied too much pressure by grinding or chewing. It will create a hollow space for food particles and decaying bacteria. As a consequence, you will feel pain in your tooth right when you bite down something.

TMJ disorder

We don’t know for sure what exactly causes a temporomandibular joint disorder. Studies show over 10 million Americans are affected by this condition. Patients feel pain and discomfort in the jaw joints and muscles.

It also exhibits dysfunction in the jaw movement and generates a clicking and popping sound while opening the mouth. The supposed factors behind this pain could be arthritis, teeth grinding, stress or genetics.

Dental abscess

Neglecting regular flossing can take a serious toll on your gum health. If sedimented food particles sit for a long time, they will start spreading infection along the gumline. An unsuccessful root canal treatment may also develop into a dental abscess.

When the pulp tissue decays inside the pulp chamber, it creates a pocket full of pus near the tooth root. The affected area swells up, and pus oozes out, emitting a foul smell. Minimum pressure from chewing can result in tooth pain.

Gum diseases and conditions

If you have a habit of brushing teeth with too much force or teeth grinding, it may lead to gum recession. The soft parts of the tooth root get exposed in this condition. Gum recession doesn’t cause a prolonged toothache. But your teeth become very sensitive whenever you try to eat something, especially hot or cold items.

You will face red and inflamed gums due to an infection called gingivitis. A gum infection usually causes mild discomfort. But if left untreated, gingivitis will transform into a worse disease called periodontitis. The flesh of the gum gets detached from the tooth root creating a pocket that invites bacteria.

Nasal congestion

Your teeth may also ache while you are going through a bad cold or nasal congestion. The maxillary sinus cavities are situated right on the top of the roots of your upper teeth. The sinuses, teeth, and gums in this area share similar kinds of nerves. When a sinus infection causes inflammation or congestion, it creates pressure on the nerves that turns out as a pain in the teeth.

What should you do?

What should you do?

American Association of Endodontists suggests trying out toothpaste specially made for sensitive teeth as an initial cure. Stick to brushing in an up and down motion, so the root surface doesn’t get exposed. Natural antibacterial agents like peppermint oil or saltwater have also been proven very effective in treating tooth pain.

But if you continue to experience extreme tooth pain while biting down, immediately visit your dental health practitioner. Don’t ignore persistent signs and symptoms, as this can worsen the pain and the underlying condition.

On your dental visit, the dentist will perform a thorough checkup on your dental visit, including tooth x-rays, to figure out the pain source. You might need a crown replacement or a new filling, while a cracked tooth or dental abscess can be treated with a root canal procedure. Everything depends upon how fast you act on the issue. An early diagnosis will save you from weeks of suffering or tooth extraction.


Hopefully, now you are clear on the prospective grounds that can cause tooth sensitivity when biting down. We can’t stress enough on maintaining basic dental care hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and routine dental checkups.

That being said, you can’t expect a toothache to go away with home remedies completely. They will give you temporary relief. But the symptoms will only grow intense unless a dentist interferes at the right time.

If you are experiencing persistent pain, you can visit us at Image Dental. We provide a wide array of dental services to help you with your needs. You can book an appointment through the website, and our scheduling coordinator will get back to you shortly.

Stephen Nozaki, DDS, MPH, DIDIA

Dr. Stephen Nozaki is the owner and lead dentist at Image Dental in Stockton. He is a dedicated professional born and raised in California's Central Valley. With a commitment to his community, he brings advanced dental techniques learned from extensive education and continuous training from around the world. A third-generation Japanese American, Dr. Nozaki has a rich background that includes international living and a deep passion for both dentistry and outdoor activities. His focus in dentistry aligns with his passion for cosmetics and dental implants.