Why Do My Teeth Hurt? 8 Likely Causes To Know

Dental pain is a very uncomfortable condition that can have a huge impact on your daily life, making it become so difficult to perform simple tasks or activities such as talking, chewing, swallowing, sleeping or even being attentive at work.

Regardless of what you think the cause of a toothache is, it is always good practice to visit a dentist for a proper assessment to rule out more serious causes of tooth pain.

Possible Reasons Why Your Teeth Hurts

1. Tooth sensitivity

This is a very common cause of dental pain. The teeth can get sensitive for a number of reasons. It could happen as a result of excessive oral care, that is, brushing too vigorously with a hard-bristled brush or excessive use of very strong oral care products.


2. Previous tooth trauma

It is possible for a tooth that got hit many years ago either from a fall, a blow or even chewing some kinds of food to become painful years later.

At the time of the injury, the nerves in the tooth may have gotten irritated, although the tooth may show no immediate signs of being hurt. When this happens, it is advisable to have regular follow up checks with your dentist to watch out for any changes in the tooth.

3. Grinding or clenching teeth while sleeping

This habit is known as bruxism. It is a subconscious behavior and can increase the pressure on the teeth leading to muscle and teeth pain. Also, long-term bruxism can cause the biting surface of the teeth to wear off, further causing complications such as temporomandibular joint pain.

People who have this habit could benefit from a device called a “night guard”. It functions by relieving the pressure off some teeth and helping to evenly distribute pressure throughout the mouth.

4. Tooth decay

Sometimes called cavities or dental caries, this is a very common cause of a toothache. Cavities develop when the pH of the mouth becomes acidic.


When you consume foods that are starchy or contain sugars or refined carbohydrates such as cake, bread, and candy, they tend to cling to the surface of the teeth, especially the biting surface of the posterior teeth.

These food substances get broken down by bacteria in the mouth, converting them to acid. Now, there is a good mix of food debris, acid, and bacteria in the mouth. These mix with saliva to form dental plaque that adheres to the teeth.

The acid in the plaque then goes on to dissolve the hard tooth structure in a process called “demineralization”. Eventually, the weakened enamel would cave in, causing a cavity.

Having good habits and practices such as brushing your teeth after consuming sticky foods, and choosing healthier food and beverage alternatives are ways to reduce the likelihood of developing tooth decay.

5. Recent dental procedure

Having a dental procedure done on your teeth such as a filling or recently fitted braces could cause some sensitivity in the first few days following the procedure. Sometimes, filled teeth may feel painful when you bite on them even when after some time since the procedure. In this case, you may have to get it checked as it may need to be taken out and redone.


6. A cracked or broken tooth

A cracked or broken tooth could be as a result of an external blow to the mouth, a fall, biting suddenly on a hard object like a stone in food or your fork, or even as a result of grinding or clenching your teeth.

When a tooth is cracked, it becomes very painful to chew or bite food. The tooth may also feel sensitive to cold or hot drinks. Cracked tooth poses a risk for tooth decay and even tooth loss. It is necessary to visit your dentist to assess and treat a cracked tooth.

7. Sinusitis

Sinus infections can cause toothache, especially in teeth close to the sinuses in the upper back area of the jaw. Aside from the usual runny or stuffy nose and other symptoms of sinus infection, tooth pain is also a symptom associated with sinusitis.

The approach to relieving this type of dental pain would be to treat the cause of sinusitis.

8. Ear infection or Eustachian tube congestion

An ear infection can cause toothache pain of the back teeth on the side of the affected ear. It could also be felt as a radiating pain coming from the ear down the face on the affected side. The pain should be resolved once the ear infection is treated.


Dental pain should never be a reason to deviate from maintaining good oral hygiene. At the same time, the use of oral care products such as analgesics, mouth rinses and gels that relieve pain should never be substituted for professional care which you ought to receive from your dentist.

Latest posts by Chioma Udechukwu, BDS (see all)
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