For Adults

Please note that this is a general description of the dental problems described below. It is not intended to be diagnostic but informative only.  Please call the office for an evaluation of any pain or discomfort as there could be a more serious underlying problem.

My new filling hurts a little...

More than likely, what you are feeling is a normal reaction of the tooth to the work performed.  This occasional sensitivity should go away in a few days to a few weeks.  However, if you have a filling that feels "too high" (it is the first tooth that touches when you bite), call the office for an adjustment.  It should feel like all of your teeth touch at the same time when you close.  The sensitivity could get worse if this isn't corrected quickly.


Flossing is the most common thing missing from the typical patient's daily routine.  Most people brush, but unfortunately that is only 60% of the tooth surface getting clean!  Almost everyone admits to me that they "do not floss as often as they should."   Flossing scrapes plaque (bacteria) from the tooth which will reduce the chance for cavities between the teeth and swollen, inflamed gums.  Improper flossing can actually irritate the gums and cause bleeding and pain.  Ask us to show you how to floss the right way!

Clenching and Grinding

It has been my clinical experience that the vast majority of people grind their teeth on a regular basis or show signs of past wear from this destructive habit.  It typically occurs when you have stress - which for many of us is most of the time!

Chronic clenching and grinding can cause a wide variety of symptoms - sensitivity, chewing pain, fractures, jaw pain, recession, abfractions (scooped out areas at the gumline), bite irregularities and headaches.

If you experience these symptoms, there is a good chance it could be related to grinding.  Please call the office for an evaluation of this problem.  We can provide various treatments to manage your discomfort, depending on the cause of your symptoms.  To prevent damage to the teeth, jaw muscles and TMJ (joint), a nightguard may be recommended.

Why does it hurt to chew?

Chewing pain has a variety of causes.  See below for a few of the most common reasons for this - please make an appointment so we can evaluate your specific condition.

Fractured teeth:  The fracture could be small which exposes the underlying dentin and causes sensitivity.  This can typically be fixed with a simple filling. Sometimes a fracture goes under the surface of the tooth but the piece has not broken off yet.  This typically presents as "pain on release" and can usually be corrected by a crown.  A severe fracture, or split tooth, is one that goes between the roots or far below the gums and causes severe pain. Unfortunately, a lot of these teeth need to be extracted but can be replaced by an implant or bridge. 

Uneven bite:  Officially called hyperocclusion, this occurs when one or two teeth take the majority of the biting force.  Missing teeth, uneven wear patterns, tooth grinding, recent dental work or shifting of the teeth can all cause this.  It is necessary to determine the cause of the extra pressure and to relieve it - a simple reshaping, a night guard, or full replacement of the missing teeth are all possible solutions.

Abscess:  This is an infection of the ligament which connects the tooth to the jaw bone.  The infection could come from inside the tooth (requiring a root canal) or from the gums (treated with various periodontal procedures).  This requires evaluation as soon as possible - please call the office for an appointment.

Nighttime grinding:  The extra pressure from this can cause inflammation of the ligament surrounding the tooth which will hurt when chewing.  See above for a more complete description of this.