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My teeth hurt when I bite down - lower jaw and back molar

My lower jaw and back...

My lower jaw and back molar hurts terribly when I bite down, and when I leave my mouth slack my jaw has kind of a dull throb.

This started in earnest today when I woke up.

It doesn't feel like a cavity, because it hasn't been sensitive to cold or hot, but I can't chew on that side without wincing in pain.

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Answered in 30 minutes by:
12/7/2008
Dr. Alex
Dr. Alex, Dentist
Category: Dental
Satisfied Customers: 1,609
Experience: I am a General Dentist and founder of the American School of Dental Assisting
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Very good question.

There are a few things this could be.

#1. If you grind or clench your teeth at night, this will cause the pain you describe. Grinding/clenching will cause your teeth and jaw to ache, and it will be very tender to bite down on the teeth that you grind on. The solution here is to get a nightguard from your dentist, or buy an athletic guard at the store to wear while you sleep.

#2. Another possibility is that you have a cracked tooth. This is normally a result of a large silver filling in a tooth that has been there for years. The filling will expand and contract with temperature, and over time will cause your tooth to crack. The pain here will be to bite pressure and possibly cold temperatures. The solution is to have a crown placed on the tooth. You may also need a root canal if the crack is deep into the nerve. Your dentist will be able to tell this with a check up. (Keep in mind that if your root of the tooth is cracked, you will have the same symptoms, and the solution is to have the tooth extracted. You must see a dentist to determine if the crack is on the root or not.)

#3. You may have a deep cavity that you are unaware of that is close to the nerve of your tooth. The pain here will be radiating pain in your jaw, and up to your ear. The tooth may be sensitive to hot/cold as well. A dental x ray is used to determine if this is the case. If it is, then you will need a filling, and possible root canal.

Anbesol will not take care of your pain. It may dull it for a while, but the pain will not go away until you see a dentist for one of the preceding issues. Ibuprofen will be your best option for temporary pain relief. If you have swelling develop, please call your dentist to have antibiotics prescribed b/c this is a sign of infection from a deep cavity or cracked tooth.

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