Toothache when chewing


Toothache is one of the most unpleasant pains that can make everyday life very difficult. They usually appear suddenly and you won't get rid of them anytime soon.

With a delicious meal, physical activity or especially in quiet situations, the pain penetrates more and more into our consciousness. But toothache, especially when eating, can turn even the best meal into an ordeal.

When chewing, forces in the range of 30 Newtons (approx. 3000g) act, the maximum chewing force is much higher. Our teeth have to resist these forces on a daily basis, but this can sometimes lead to toothache if something is not right in our chewing system. The causes behind such pain expand into a wide range of possibilities.

Chewing pain

Since the symptoms for the pain stem from many causes, it will take a thorough examination of the dentist to find a solution. Pain is a warning signal from our body that something is wrong and needs treatment. If you ignore them, they usually only get worse until you can't take it anymore.

Find out more about: What should you do if you have a toothache?

Pain tablets are usually only suitable if you want to bridge the pain phase for a short time or if a treatment has already taken place, the healing of which is associated with pain. However, they are not fighting the cause. In the initial stages, the toothache is usually not noticeable, it is only slightly or barely noticeable. However, as time goes on, it can increase and put more stress on the body from day to day. The perception of pain differs from person to person.

You might also be interested in this topic: Pain relievers for toothache

Toothache can be permanent or only in phases in its perceptible phase. All variations are possible, from slightly dull, pulsating to a strong painful pulling. Cold or warmth, as they are also important when chewing, since one might eat either an ice cream or a warm soup, can increase the pain, as can hard and solid foods, which require a greater degree of chewing force and therefore also a greater one Apply force to the dental apparatus.

The pain is usually not limited to the affected area, but radiates further, so that headaches or cervical vertebrae complaints can also be attributed to causes in the oral cavity. In addition, there is sometimes a thick, swollen cheek and a difficult mouth opening.

Read more on the topic: Thick cheek



The most common cause of pain when chewing can be traced back to a damaged tooth. This is mostly attacked by caries, which fights its way through the healthy tooth structure and migrates towards the tooth pulp. Tooth decay is bacteria that arise from plaque and process sugar. The end products of this manufacturing process are organic acids that demineralize the tooth, i.e. break down the hard tooth substance. This creates a hole. In most cases, this causes pain even if there is no chewing load, when the caries is already more advanced.

Read more on the topic: Caries

If the chewing force is exerted, however, even "normal" caries can lead to pain, as food components press the affected area. Particularly sweet and sour foods, such as gummy bears, can cause toothache. When the strain subsides, the pain is no longer present. The main causes of tooth decay are inadequate oral hygiene, which means that the plaque is not completely or partially removed and thus the bacteria are offered an optimal breeding ground.

But also a bad diet, through lots of sugary and acidic foods, or a possible genetic predisposition, promote the development of caries. If the first symptoms are ignored, the tooth decay will progress and also affect other areas of the masticatory system. The further stages can also be considered as a cause of toothache when chewing.


Is pulpitis present (Dental nerve inflammation) or if the dental nerve is already dying or dead, pain can be increased when chewing. The decisive factor is not only whether food is available, but also how firm it is and whether it is warm or cold. For example, the pain of pulpitis is much worse with cold food than with warm food.

Find out more about the topic: Pulpitis

Pulp necrosis

If the tooth root has died, however, there may also be freedom from pain, as the tooth root contains the important nerve fibers, which then no longer allow forwarding. The bacteria can progress to such an extent that the tooth holding apparatus can be affected, so that at the end the tooth is loosened or has to be pulled. If you experience pain while chewing, it is advisable to have a check-up at the dentist's in order to diagnose the caries as early as possible.

Read more on the topic: Pulp necrosis

Toothache after a filling

In addition to the cause of tooth decay, a tooth that has already been filled can also trigger toothache. In this case, the pain tends to be pulling, particularly present with hard food and subsided again after a certain time. This sensitivity is due to the fact that the dental nerve has been severely irritated due to the treatment and needs a certain regeneration time. These symptoms should subside, however, as otherwise the filling material may not be correctly connected to the tooth, which means that the filling acts like a spring when chewing and has to be replaced.

Further information on the subject can be found at: Toothache after filling

Toothache after root canal treatment

Even after a root canal treatment, there may still be pain in the neighboring teeth. Starting from this position, toothache when chewing after a visit to the dentist is not uncommon because the tooth is irritated and needs to come to rest. When a tooth is drilled, heat, pressure and high forces are exerted on the tooth nerve, which has to recover from this irritation.

Read more on the topic: Toothache after root canal treatment

Toothache under a crown / bridge

Toothache while chewing can also occur under a crown or bridge. If it is a newly inserted crown, it is likely that the jaw joint will have to get used to the position of the teeth again. If the symptoms persist, it is necessary to check the bite again (occlusion), possibly grinding back the crown. Caries or inflammation of the pulp (pulpitis) are also possible triggers for toothache under a crown.

Read more on the topic: Toothache under a crown / bridge

Misaligned teeth

Another possible cause of toothache when chewing is when the teeth are not correctly matched to one another and do not mesh optimally when chewing. This pain usually radiates widely and can even affect the temporomandibular joint, as it can become inflamed with permanent incorrect loading and cause pain with any movement of the mouth. A filling that is too high or a tooth crown can prevent the correct bite. This is particularly possible with larger interventions such as a bridge, an implant or a full denture. But even in this case you have to wait a certain amount of time because you have to adapt physically and mentally to the new, unfamiliar situation in your mouth.
However, if you continue to experience chewing discomfort after a long period of time, it is advisable to have another check with your dentist. He can renew the filling or correct the new denture until it has found the right fit and the normal bite is guaranteed, so that the toothache when chewing subsides.


Bruxism is a common misuse nowadays. This is an unconscious clenching and grinding of teeth, mostly at night. As a result, the teeth are exposed to high forces and the temporomandibular joint is also affected, so that the constant incorrect loading can lead to pain when chewing. A tooth that is permanently incorrectly loaded can die off, as the strong pressure damages the tooth nerve.

Read more on the subject at: Bruxism


In addition to the causes mentioned, "sinusitis" (Sinus infection), lead to pain in the teeth and thus also when chewing. The paranasal sinuses include the maxillary sinuses, frontal sinuses, ethmoid cells and the sphenoid sinus. The disease is usually accompanied by fever, headache and general depression. Viruses, bacteria or allergies are the most common triggers.

If the maxillary sinus is inflamed, this painful stimulus continues to the teeth. Especially when chewing, the pain is intensified due to the pressure sensitivity in the upper jaw. The proximity of the roots of the molars to the maxillary sinus is also important for this interplay of pain.

Read more on the topic: Sinusitis

Concomitant symptoms

Noticeable symptoms of chewing pain are a crunching or cracking in the jaw joint. The joint may be overloaded or irritated. When the joint disc is already worn out, the bones rub against each other, causing a sharp pain and a radiating pain to the teeth. This accompanying symptom can often be seen in patients with bruxism, i.e. those who constantly grind their teeth and in whom the articular cartilage is already damaged. It can also lead to headaches and migraines and indirectly loss of appetite. This is an inverse protection mechanism used by the body to escape pain.

If the cause is too much filling, another symptom is the lack of contact with other teeth. If the filling is too high, one speaks of early contact. On the one hand, one tooth receives too much chewing force, on the other hand, the jaw joint is steered into the wrong path of movement. The headache described above can also result from sinusitis. If you have a sinus infection, your maxillary sinuses are also affected by the inflammation. On the one hand, the cold leads to a feeling of pressure and headaches, as the cavities are filled with too much nasal secretion and fluid. On the other hand, the nerves of the upper molars are squeezed by the weight of the liquid, especially if there is additional pressure from the other side while chewing.

Toothache after root canal treatment

Most of the time, there is already pain before the root canal treatment that does not go away immediately after the treatment. In root canal treatment, the tooth nerves are torn from the large nerve at the tip of the root. This rupture has to take a few days to recover. Since every tooth is individual, you can never predict that the treatment will be a success. Some of the root canals are curved in such a way that bacteria cannot be completely removed from them. Germs can therefore still remain in the tooth and continue to cause pain. The pain can also come from a filling that is too high or too wide, which is placed at the end of the treatment.

You might also be interested in: Pain during a root canal treatment

Toothache after a filling

Pain after a filling is not uncommon. On the one hand, an injection is given before the filling therapy so that you do not feel any pain. As soon as the anesthesia wears off, pain may reappear. They come from the fact that a large part of the damaged tooth structure is removed, which actually serves as protection. Depending on how deep the filling goes and how far it protrudes to the nerve, the tooth pulp is irritated. Another reason is that the tooth is additionally irritated during the treatment from drilling and grinding and from the cold water. The most common reason is a filling that is too high or a filling that has been placed too close to the neighboring tooth. When chewing, the first contact is made with the filling. The entire chewing force is transferred to a single tooth and its ligaments.

Read more on the topic: Toothache after a filling - is it normal?

Toothache only when eating hard foods

There can be several reasons why one or more teeth hurt, especially when chewing hard foods. If you speak of hard food, it is still “softer” than the hard tooth substance itself, otherwise the tooth would break. But if the tooth is weakened by caries, it gives way to the pressure. Tooth decay makes the tooth porous and hollow. If something hard presses on the chewing surface, this pressure is transferred to the nerves via the softened enamel and the even softer dentin. The cause of the pain can also lie in the teeth holding apparatus. When chewing, the tooth is pressed into its tooth socket. With hard food that doesn't just give way, all the more.

The fibers that hold the teeth are stretched. With inflammation of the gums and the remaining periodontium, this reacts to the heavy load with pain. The pain can also arise in the temporomandibular joint. If the food is so hard that it cannot be easily chewed on, the jaw joints are stressed unevenly.If you only chew on one side, the opposite joint is lifted off its hinges. The pain is caused by the fact that the bones of the joint head and socket rub against each other. The pain pulls from the temporomandibular joint and radiates into individual teeth. Often the pain cannot be clearly localized.

Pain in the crown

When preparing a crown, the protective tooth structure, namely the enamel, is removed with grinding tools. One speaks of a grinding trauma if the tooth is not sufficiently cooled with water during the treatment. However, there is also irritation because the cold water cools the tooth and nerve too much. When inserting the crown, for example a ceramic crown, the tooth is first etched with a high-percentage hydrofluoric acid preparation. When chewing, the tooth also hurts if the crown is too high, i.e. if it is not seated correctly, or if the tooth with the crown comes into contact with the opposing tooth too early. If the crown is too close to the neighboring tooth, they will be pushed apart. Then the neighboring teeth usually also hurt as soon as chewing pressure comes on the tooth with the crown.

Read more on the topic: Toothache under a crown

Toothache with a cold

When you have a cold, the sinuses, including the maxillary sinus, are filled with nasal secretions and fluid. Since the upper posterior teeth and the canines with their long roots protrude to the floor of the maxillary sinus and sometimes even into it, pain can occur. When chewing, the teeth are pushed further into their tooth socket. The nerves and blood vessels enter and exit at the tip of the root and are squeezed between the chewing pressure and the fluid in the maxillary sinus. In addition, a cold can lead to inflammation of the gums. With this type of inflammation, any kind of touch that cannot be avoided while chewing and eating is painful.

Read more on the topic: Toothache with a cold

Duration of the toothache

Toothache while chewing should only last as long as you are chewing. You can't tell how long such pain will last and when it should be gone. It is important to find out the cause of this pain and treat it. Physiologically, it is normal to be painful when biting a hazelnut, for example. The jaw and teeth are not designed for this. If the pain only persists while chewing, the cause may be one of the reasons described below. But if they occur spontaneously while chewing and don't fade away after eating, something may be broken off, broken or dislocated. Pain when chewing, and especially pain that lasts longer, should definitely be examined by the dentist.


Depending on the cause, different treatments should be sought. If pain symptoms occur, however, a dentist should be consulted in any case, or an ENT doctor or general practitioner if there is inflammation in the head area.

If the cause is dental, the dentist can treat the tooth decay, replace the filling, grind in the crown or rework the full denture so that a correct bite on healthy teeth is guaranteed. Pending treatment, pain relievers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can be used to relieve the pain. Common household remedies such as cooling, clove oil, rinsing with chamomile tea or a disinfecting mouth rinse solution, and savoy cabbage leaves can also be used as a means of relief. However, even in this case, the cause is not combated, only the symptoms are alleviated.


Toothache that occurs while chewing is not uncommon and affects many people. On average, everyone suffers from a cold at least once a year, which can spread to the paranasal sinuses and must therefore be considered as a trigger for toothache.

Good oral hygiene significantly reduces the risk of tooth decay, so that any toothache or pain that may result from the treatment can be well controlled and prevented. Toothache is intensified or triggered by the high forces that act when chewing, but which are essential for chopping up daily food, but this can be treated well and efficiently with a visit to the dentist, so that you can enjoy eating morning muesli again to get.