My Back Tooth Hurts When I Chew – What Could It Be?

The teeth in the back of the mouth, known as molars, are large and strong; however, they are quite sensitive too. And, if your back tooth hurts every time you eat or chew, then this could be a sign that something is wrong.

There are many reasons why you could experience tooth pain when chewing or biting down, and in this article, we will discuss the most common causes for this.


Common Reasons for Pain in the Back Tooth While Chewing



If you experience any sensitivity or tooth pain when you eat or chew food, then it could be because of cavities or tooth decay. Cavities are caused due to food particles and bacteria that remain in the mouth and poor dental hygiene. As a result, food can get stuck in the cavity and exert pressure when you eat, causing pain.

If the tooth decay worsens, it can irritate the nerve or pulp within the tooth, which can get inflamed every time you bite or chew food, causing pulpitis, which is a very painful condition.

It is very important to treat the problem immediately because if the inflammation persists for a long time, it may result in permanent tooth damage.


Cracked Tooth

The sharp pain caused when you chew on food or bite down and release the bite may be because of a cracked tooth. You may not even realise that the tooth is damaged until you feel the pain when eating.

Diagnosing a cracked tooth can be quite difficult but should be treated as soon as possible because if left untreated, bacteria can get into the gap and cause tooth decay.



If you experience pain in your back tooth when chewing food, it could be because of an abscess around the tip of the root. The inflammation and swelling caused by the abscess can exert pressure on the tooth, causing severe pain. And, if not treated immediately, the condition can worsen, requiring a root canal procedure or even tooth extraction.


Gum Disease

Known as gingivitis in the early stage and periodontitis when it becomes more advanced, gum disease causes your gums to wear away or recede. This can cause a lot of pain, especially when eating or chewing food.

Gum disease can cause your teeth to become loose, and depending on the severity of the detachment of the tissue, can cause swollen gums and bleeding or exposed roots.


Gum Recession and Root Exposure

If you experience pain when chewing, it could be because of gum recession caused when the gums pull back from the teeth, leaving the teeth and sometimes even the tooth root exposed.

And, when you chew, the pressure applied to the exposed root can cause sharp pain. Gum recession can be caused due to various factors, including gum disease, forceful brushing, trauma, or grinding the teeth.


Uneven Tooth, Crown or Filling

Occlusion is when the teeth meet when the jaws are closed, and if there is malocclusion or if the teeth don’t fit together correctly, then they can cause pain when you bite down or chew your food. If your dental crown or tooth filling is loose or uneven, then the tooth can hurt when eating.


Sinus or Nasal Congestion

Every time you suffer from a toothache, it does not necessarily mean that you have a dental problem. For example, if you’re suffering from nasal or sinus congestion, then this can cause your back tooth to hurt when chewing.

This is because the roots of the upper teeth are located very close to the sinuses, and any congestion, infection, inflammation, or pressure can cause the molars or premolars to give pain. As a result, pain in the back teeth is a common condition of sinusitis, and this is often called a sinus toothache.


Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

If you grind your teeth (bruxism) or clench your jaw often, this can put a lot of pressure on your teeth. Often, people grind their teeth while sleeping or clench their jaws when they are stressed and don’t even realise it.

This can cause your jaws and teeth to be sore, and you may have trouble closing and opening your mouth or have pain while chewing or biting down. You can prevent this by following some relaxing techniques and by wearing a mouthguard.


Growing Wisdom Teeth

The last set of teeth to emerge are your wisdom teeth. And, if there is an abnormal growth of the wisdom teeth because of insufficient space or an awkward position, this can cause severe pain when you bite down, eat, or chew.

So, if you’re suffering from a lot of pain because of your wisdom teeth, then your dentist may prescribe painkillers. However, if this does not relieve the pain, they may decide to remove the teeth depending on your condition.

In conclusion, if your back tooth hurts every time you eat or chew, this can impact your everyday life adversely. The pain will not get resolved on its own, and you must visit your dentist to address and treat any underlying condition that may be causing the pain. So, don’t ignore it and get medical help as soon as possible.