Why Do My Teeth Hurt When I Bite Down?

teeth pain

If you’ve ever experienced the uncomfortable sensation of your teeth hurting when you bite down, you’re not alone. Tooth pain can be a distressing and often confusing issue, impacting your daily life and overall well-being. In this article, we will delve into the various reasons why your teeth might hurt when you bite down. From common dental problems to less frequently discussed issues, we’ll explore the potential causes and offer insights on when to seek professional dental care. 

There are a few reasons as to why your teeth may hurt when biting down. Issues such as tooth decay, misalignment, tooth sensitivity, joint issues, sinus infections and gum disease may all be a strong factor as to why you may feel pain in your teeth when biting down.

Potential Reasons Your Teeth May Hurt When Biting Down

Many potential issues or reasons can cause tooth pain, especially when biting down. Let’s take a look at the main potential reasons:

Tooth Decay

Tooth pain during biting is a common consequence of dental decay, often referred to as cavities. These decayed areas weaken the tooth’s structure, making it more vulnerable to pressure and causing discomfort when biting down. Essentially, cavities are the result of bacterial activity that eats away at the tooth’s enamel, forming small holes. When you chew or bite, the pressure can exacerbate this vulnerability, leading to pain. Regular dental check-ups and maintaining dental hygiene can help identify and address cavities before they progress to this painful stage.

Gum Disease

Advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, can lead to gum recession, exposing the tooth roots. This exposure can make the teeth sensitive to pressure, causing discomfort while biting down. Gum disease typically results from poor oral hygiene and can be accompanied by symptoms like bleeding gums, bad breath, and loose teeth. Addressing gum disease through professional dental cleanings and treatments can help alleviate the pain and prevent further damage to the teeth and gums.

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity can cause discomfort when biting down, especially in response to temperature changes (hot or cold), sugary or acidic foods, or certain textures. This sensitivity often stems from exposed dentin, a layer beneath the enamel, which contains microscopic tubules connected to the tooth’s nerve endings. When these tubules are stimulated, it triggers a sharp, shooting pain. Toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth and dental treatments like fluoride applications or dental sealants can help reduce sensitivity and ease discomfort.

Sinus Infections

On occasion, sinus infections can refer pain to in the upper teeth, making them sensitive when biting down. The maxillary sinuses are located near the upper molars, and when they become infected or congested, the pressure can spread to the teeth. Treating the underlying sinus issue, such as with antibiotics or decongestants, can often resolve the dental discomfort. It’s essential to differentiate between dental and sinus-related pain to receive the appropriate treatment.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull, facilitating movements like chewing and speaking. Problems with the TMJ can result in jaw and tooth pain when biting down. TMJ disorders often manifest with symptoms like jaw clicking, locking, or limited movement. Management may involve lifestyle changes, physical therapy, or dental appliances to alleviate the pain and improve TMJ function.


Malocclusion refers to an improper alignment of the upper and lower teeth, leading to an uneven distribution of pressure when biting down. This misalignment can create localised pain or discomfort in specific teeth. Orthodontic treatments or dental appliances may be recommended to correct the bite and alleviate the associated discomfort. A proper alignment ensures that the teeth come together harmoniously during biting and chewing, reducing the risk of pain and damage.

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Bruxism, the habit of grinding or clenching teeth, especially during sleep, can result in tooth pain and sensitivity when biting or chewing. The constant pressure and friction can wear down the tooth enamel, exposing the underlying dentin and nerve endings. This can lead to increased tooth sensitivity and discomfort during normal oral activities. Treatment for bruxism may include the use of a mouthguard to protect the teeth and lifestyle changes to reduce stress and anxiety, which often contribute to grinding.

It is important to understand that there are a multitude of potential reasons why your teeth may hurt when biting down. If the pain continues after a few days, we strongly recommend visiting a dentist for a check-up.

How To Prevent Your Teeth Hurting When You Bite

Preventing tooth pain when biting down is essential for maintaining oral health and ensuring a comfortable eating experience. Fortunately, there are several proactive steps you can take to minimise the risk of encountering this discomfort.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Regular brushing, flossing, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash can help prevent dental decay and gum disease, two leading causes of tooth pain during biting.

Regular Dental Check-Ups: Scheduling routine dental appointments allows your dentist to detect and address potential issues early, reducing the chances of severe tooth pain.

Address Teeth Grinding: If you grind or clench your teeth, especially at night, wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard can protect your teeth from excessive wear and sensitivity.

Practise a Balanced Diet: Limiting sugary and acidic foods can help prevent dental decay and enamel erosion, which contribute to tooth sensitivity and pain.

Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water maintains saliva production, which plays a vital role in protecting teeth from sensitivity and decay.

Manage Stress: Stress can lead to teeth grinding and clenching, so stress management techniques like meditation or yoga can be beneficial.

Correct Dental Issues: Addressing issues like malocclusion or misaligned teeth through orthodontic treatment can help distribute biting forces evenly, reducing the risk of localised tooth pain.

Follow Dental Advice: If your dentist recommends specific treatments or restorative work, adhere to their advice to maintain the integrity of your teeth and prevent future discomfort.

Seek Prompt Treatment: If you experience any dental pain or sensitivity, do not delay seeking professional dental care. Early intervention can prevent minor issues from progressing into more significant problems.

By incorporating these preventive measures into your oral care routine and being proactive about dental health, you can minimise the chances of experiencing tooth pain when biting down, ensuring a happier and healthier smile.