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Tooth Sensitivity and Chewing - What Are the Causes?

By Stephen Rogers on April 06, 2017

A woman experiencing tooth painTooth sensitivity when chewing is one of the most alarming types of dental pain that can affect patients. It often develops suddenly. You may be biting down on a piece of hard or chewy food, when a sharp, shooting pain affects a single tooth. Rather than scheduling an appointment with your dentist, you may avoid chewing with the affected tooth.

However, tooth pain when chewing is often a sign of a dental problem. At Greater Long Island Dental, we advise patients to schedule a dental exam when they experience tooth sensitivity when chewing. One of the dentists at our Long Island, NY dental practice will review your X-rays and examine your mouth to pinpoint the cause of the discomfort. We can then perform the appropriate restorative dentistry treatment to improve the health of the affected tooth. Read on to learn more about the potential causes of tooth pain when chewing, along with treatment options.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity When Chewing?

There are several different causes of tooth pain when chewing. Some of the most common include:

  • A cavity: A cavity can expose the sensitive tissues that reside within the inner structures of the tooth. When a cavity first develops, it typically does not cause any pain. However, as the decay damages the outer tooth enamel, it exposes the nerves, causing patients to feel pain when pressure is applied to the tooth.
  • Root canal infection: As the cavity progresses, the hard tissues of the tooth (the enamel, dentin, and cementum) continue to become damaged. Eventually the infection reaches the root canals of the teeth, where the sensitive nerves and soft tissues are housed. Root canal infections often result in significant pain, particularly when chewing.
  • A damaged or loose dental restoration: A damaged or loose dental restoration (such as a filling, inlay, onlay, or crown) exposes the nerves within the tooth, causing pain when the tooth is exposed to pressure or hot and cold foods.
  • Cracks or fractures: A cracked or fractured tooth can also expose the sensitive nerves to pressure or temperature changes.

Treatment for Tooth Pain When Chewing

If a cavity is causing your tooth pain, we will clean the tooth to remove any infected tooth material, and then restore the tooth with a filling, inlay, onlay, or crown to seal off the sensitive tissues within the tooth.

A root canal infection requires more aggressive treatment. In this case, we will use special tools to clean out the root canals within the tooth, removing the infected soft tissues. We will then fill the root canals with a rubber compound, and cap the tooth with a porcelain dental crown.

Damaged restorations can be replaced to relieve tooth sensitivity when chewing. Our dentists will remove the old restoration, clean the tooth, and then place a new, tooth-colored restoration that will treat the tooth pain and restore the appearance of the tooth.

A cracked or fractured tooth will be treated by filling in the lost tooth structure with tooth-colored composite resin. This will prevent pressure or temperature changes from causing tooth sensitivity. If the crack is severe, we may cap the tooth with a dental crown.

To schedule an appointment to have the cause of your tooth sensitivity diagnosed, contact Greater Long Island Dental today.

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Massapequa Office

101 New York Ave
Massapequa, NY 11758

Open Today 9:00am - 7:00pm

All Hours Directions (516) 468-7103