Why Do Your Back Teeth Hurt When Chewing?

Dental Erosion

If you’ve ever experienced discomfort when your back teeth hurt when chewing, you’re not alone. Many people encounter this issue, and it can be quite bothersome. In this article, we’ll explore the most common causes of back teeth pain and what you can do to get relief.


Table of Contents


Understanding the Anatomy of Your Back Teeth

Your back teeth, also known as molars and premolars, are the workhorses of your mouth. They’re responsible for grinding and crushing food so you can digest it properly. Molars have flat, broad surfaces with lots of ridges and bumps, which helps them break down tough foods. Premolars have fewer ridges and bumps, but they’re still strong enough to handle most foods.

Vulnerabilities of Back Teeth

While the structural complexity of molars and premolars equips them for their vital role in digestion, it also makes them susceptible to certain dental issues. The numerous cusps and grooves create hiding spots for food particles and bacteria, increasing the risk of dental decay and cavities. Additionally, the forceful nature of chewing can sometimes lead to fractures or cracks in these teeth, causing pain and sensitivity.


Common Causes of Back Teeth Hurt When Chewing

Experiencing discomfort or pain in your back teeth while chewing is a common dental issue that can significantly affect your daily life. To address this problem effectively, it’s essential to understand the various causes behind this discomfort.

Dental Cavities (Tooth Decay)

Dental cavities are a leading cause of back teeth pain. They occur when harmful bacteria in your mouth produce acids that erode the protective enamel of your teeth. Back teeth, with their numerous cusps and grooves, are particularly susceptible to the accumulation of food particles and bacteria, making them prime targets for cavities. When cavities penetrate the enamel and reach the dentin or pulp of the tooth, you’ll likely experience pain and sensitivity, especially when chewing hard or sweet foods.

Tooth Fractures

Tooth fractures, whether minor chips or more severe cracks, can result in back teeth pain during chewing. Even a tiny fracture can expose the sensitive inner layers of your tooth, causing discomfort when you apply pressure during chewing. Factors such as biting hard objects, experiencing trauma, or grinding your teeth (bruxism) can increase the risk of tooth fractures.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, particularly advanced stages like periodontitis, can affect the tissues supporting your teeth. When your gums become inflamed and infected, it can lead to discomfort and pain, often felt during chewing. In advanced cases, gum disease can result in gum recession and expose the tooth’s roots, intensifying the pain.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, often lack sufficient space to erupt properly. When they become impacted, meaning they can’t fully emerge from the gum line, they can press against neighboring teeth, leading to pain and discomfort. Chewing can exacerbate this pain, making it a noticeable issue.

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth grinding, medically referred to as bruxism, is a condition where you unconsciously clench or grind your teeth, often during sleep. This habit can wear down the enamel of your back teeth over time. As the enamel becomes thinner, you may experience heightened sensitivity and discomfort when chewing on these teeth.

Dental Work Issues

Sometimes, previous dental work like fillings or crowns on your back teeth can become compromised or develop issues. If a filling falls out or a crown becomes loose, it can expose the underlying tooth structure, resulting in pain during chewing.


How to Cure and Prevent Back Teeth Pain

If you’re experiencing back teeth pain, the first step is to see a dentist to diagnose the problem. Once they know what’s causing the pain, they can recommend a treatment plan.

However, the best way to prevent back teeth pain is to take good care of your teeth and gums. Here are some tips to help prevent back teeth pain:

  • Brush and floss twice a day.
  • Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and foods.
  • Quit smoking.
  • See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
  • Avoid chewing on hard or sticky foods.
  • Don’t grind or clench your teeth.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Manage stress.



If you’re experiencing back teeth pain when you chew, it’s important to see a dentist to determine the underlying cause and get the appropriate treatment. Once the underlying cause is addressed, the pain should subside.

To help keep your back teeth healthy and prevent pain, follow the tips above. If you have any concerns or questions about your back teeth, reach out to our dentist to schedule an appointment.