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What Causes Tooth Pain After Eating?

tooth pain management

What Causes Tooth Pain After Eating?

Tooth pain can become a nuisance, especially if it is triggered by eating. As irritating as this throbbing pain can be, tooth pain is usually a sign of more serious issues with the tooth in question and is a symptom of a variety of other conditions. If you are feeling tooth pain consistently after each meal, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bruce Vafa, West Hollywood best dentist. Here are some issues that might be causing that throbbing pain, and what the treatment options are for each.

Tooth Decay

More commonly known as a cavity, tooth decay is usually the most common culprit of causing toothaches. Cavities form when bacteria eat through the hard external enamel of the tooth, leaving the inner nerves and tissues exposed. While having some level of bacteria is essential for a healthy oral environment, as the bacteria helps externally digest food and kill off microbes before the food enters your esophagus, eating too many sugary foods tends to feed the wrong kind of bacteria, increasing the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Harmful bacteria can form plaque and acids that eat away at the tooth enamel, eventually leading to cavities if you don’t properly take care of your teeth. White, brown, or black spots on your teeth could be visual signs that you might have cavities.


Most cavities can be treated by a filling, in which the cavity is drilled out, the crevice is cleaned and then filled back in. In severe cases, more extensive work might need to be done if the infection has compromised the health of the tooth.

[See: White Dental Fillings ]


An abscess forms when the pulp of the tooth becomes infected and dies, decaying and leaving behind puss and bacteria. This most commonly occurs when a cavity is left untreated for too long and bacteria is able to eat away at the tooth pulp for extended periods of time. This can cause severe tooth pain and is usually a persistent throbbing.


Treatment for an abscess usually involves cleaning out the pulp of the tooth as well as cleaning any of the underlying gum if the abscess has caused any gum disease, and then either performing a root canal if the gum is still structurally sound, or have an implant put in if the gum has been eaten away to the point where the tooth will no longer hold.

Tooth Fracture

A tooth fracture can be caused by a number of things. This can range from biting into something too hard like ice, natural weaknesses in the tooth due to a defect, or falling and striking your jaw or tooth causing it to fracture. The fracture allows substances like water, air, and bacteria to enter the tooth and irritate the pulp, triggering a pain response.


Your dentist can usually repair a tooth fracture through the use of dental glue, veneer, or fillings depending on the size and severity of the fracture. Your dentist may also need to perform a root canal or apply a crown depending on the damage done to the tooth pulp.

Damaged Filling

If you have already gotten a filling previously, it is possible to damage your filling the same way you would fracture your normal enamel, through either biting something hard or falling and striking your jaw or tooth. Grinding or clenching your teeth can also wear down your filling as well. This can cause your fillings to either crack, chip, wear away, or even pop out completely.


In the case of a damaged filling, your dentist will likely drill out the old filling and replace it with a new one to ensure your filling stays structurally sound.


Gingivitis, or gum infection, can also cause serious tooth pain. Bacteria from infected gums can build up around the roots of the tooth and deteriorate the roots, weakening the structural stability of the tooth. The bacteria can also wear away the gums as well as eat away at the bone that holds the tooth in place. Gum infection is the leading cause of lost teeth in adults.


Deep cleaning or ‘scaling’ may be required to remove the bacteria from your gums, which can be extremely painful, and more extreme measures like root planting might be required to keep your gums healthy if you have gum infections. In extreme cases, dental surgery may even be required in order to save or replace a tooth that is at risk of falling out.

Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth can eventually lead to pain if you do it often and consistently enough. Not only does grinding your teeth wear away at the surface enamel on the tops of your teeth, but it also puts added pressure on your gums and roots, as well as increase your risk of cavities and tooth fractures. Teeth grinding commonly occurs at night while asleep or as a response to stress.


If you grind your teeth at night, the most common treatment is to use a mouth guard to prevent your teeth from grinding together. If it is more related to your stress response, learning new coping techniques can help reduce your tendencies to grind your teeth.

Erupting Tooth

If a tooth is coming in and piercing through the gum, this can cause some pain as the tooth grows in and makes its way through the gum. This is most common in adults when wisdom teeth start coming in, though erupting teeth can also become impacted if they grow in the wrong direction or are blocked by other teeth. This can cause severe pain as well as shift and weaken the teeth that they are pressing against, throwing off the entire mechanism of your jaw and teeth.


Teeth that are erupting properly can cause pain around the eruption site, but since the pain isn’t a sign of other issues you can simply use topical gels and pain relievers to help numb the area or reduce pain sensitivity. If you have an impacted tooth then minor oral surgery is often required to either make room for the new tooth or to remove the impacted tooth entirely like in the case of a wisdom tooth growing in sideways. If you have an impacted tooth, it is better to resolve the issue sooner rather than later since the pressure on your other teeth can cause your teeth to shift, further compounding the problem. If your teeth shift too much you may need braces to realign your teeth into the proper positioning, which is both extremely expensive and can take years of treatment to resolve.


Tooth pain is almost always the sign of another condition, though it can be hard to determine the cause without visiting your dentist for an exam. If you are suffering from chronic tooth pain after eating, make an appointment with Dr. Bruce Vafa, West Hollywood best dentist to get to the root of the problem, and get the treatment you need. Your smile will thank you.