Molar Tooth Pain Symptoms
Adults typically have 32 permanent teeth. Twelve of these are molar teeth, which are at the back of the mouth. The 4 teeth at the very back (one on each side at the top and bottom) appear last, in the late teens and early twenties, and are often called "wisdom teeth." Molar teeth have mostly flat tops and are used to grind food. Pain in molar teeth can be caused by any of the processes that affect other teeth. In addition, molar teeth are particularly prone to certain painful conditions because of their position far back in the mouth.
Symptoms that can be associated with molar tooth pain include:
Molar Tooth Pain Causes Overview
- Cavities : Debris that forms on the surfaces of teeth over the course of the day can host bacteria. Acid produced by bacteria creates holes in the teeth over time. Molar teeth are particularly prone to cavities because their location in the back of the mouth makes them difficult to clean effectively.
- Fracture : An acute injury, biting down on hard foods, or gradual damage over time can cause a crack to develop. This results in pain if the crack extends deep into the tooth.
- Inflammation of the pulp : Either a deep cavity or an injury to the tooth can cause damage and inflammation of the pulp, the deepest part of the tooth. This results in pain with hot and cold foods and with chewing.
- Impacted tooth : Sometimes there is not enough space for a wisdom tooth to completely grow out of the gum. It may grow at an angle, damaging other teeth and contributing to infections and cavities.
- Loose tooth : In severe gum disease the gums erode away from the teeth. The teeth become loose, resulting in pain during chewing.
- Gum flap over tooth : The flap of gum covering an erupting wisdom tooth often becomes inflamed and painful.
Infectious Molar Tooth Pain Causes
Local infection : Inflammation of the gum over a wisdom tooth or the pulp of a tooth can progress to a bacterial infection.
Spreading infection : Without proper treatment, a local infection can spread, causing extensive swelling and pain. An infection in a molar tooth is particularly likely to cause a severe infection because it is located in the back of the mouth near the airway and other important structures.
Sinusitis : An infection of the sinuses can cause referred pain to the upper molar teeth.
4 Potential Molar Tooth Pain Causes
Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.
1.Middle Ear Infection
Middle ear infections, also known as otitis media, occur when the tubes that carry sound become clogged with debris like mucus.
With proper treatment, middle ear infections generally resolve within a week.
- Top Symptoms:
- fatigue, sore throat, new headache, fever, ear canal pain
- Symptoms that always occur with middle ear infection:
- ear canal pain
- Symptoms that never occur with middle ear infection:
- vertigo (extreme dizziness), face weakness, facial numbness
- Primary care doctor
2.Temporomandibular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of the ear, and it connects the jaw to the side of the head. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a painful condition which can be caused by excess tension in jaw mucles, faulty alignment between upper and lower teeth, arthritis in the joint, or injury of the jaw or face.
Outcome is highly case-dependent.
- Top Symptoms:
- dizziness, pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw, history of headaches, jaw pain, pain in the back of the neck
- Symptoms that always occur with temporomandibular joint (tmj) dysfunction disorder:
- pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw
- Primary care doctor
Molar Tooth Pain Checker
Take a quiz to find out why you’re having molar tooth pain.Take a quiz
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread pain, tenderness, and fatigue.
Fibromyalgia is generally a lifelong condition
- Top Symptoms:
- fatigue, arthralgias or myalgias, anxiety, depressed mood, headache
- Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia:
- arthralgias or myalgias
- Primary care doctor
The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.
The common cold resolves within 7 to 10 days.
- Top Symptoms:
- fatigue, headache, cough, sore throat, congestion
- Symptoms that never occur with common cold:
- being severely ill, severe muscle aches, rash, severe headache, sinus pain
Molar Tooth Pain Treatments and Relief
Most causes of molar tooth pain are not an emergency. However, infections that start with a tooth and spread to other structures can be dangerous, even life-threatening, and require urgent evaluation. In addition, quick treatment may be necessary to save a broken tooth.
Seek emergency treatment if you have:
- Difficulty breathing, speaking, or opening your mouth
- Facial swelling
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Discharge with a foul taste
- A piece of a tooth broken off
- Bleeding from a tooth
In some cases, even though emergency treatment isn't necessary, you may need medical evaluation and treatment. Make an appointment with your dentist if you have:
- Tooth pain with hot and cold food and liquids
- A loose tooth
- Constant tooth pain lasting more than two days
- Swollen painful gums around a tooth
Your dentist may prescribe one or more of the following treatments, depending on the cause of your molar tooth pain:
- Filling a cavity to prevent further damage.
- Fluoride treatment to prevent progression of cavities.
- Root canal, where the pulp of the tooth is removed and the resulting space is filled.
- Antibiotics for an infection.
- Removal of a tooth.
Some home treatments may help with molar tooth pain symptoms.
- If you experience molar tooth pain with brushing or with hot and cold foods, try using a desensitizing toothpaste.
- Try placing a cold compress on your cheek over the affected tooth.
- A warm water rinse can help relieve tooth pain.
- NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help relieve pain.
FAQs About Molar Tooth Pain
Here are some frequently asked questions about molar tooth pain.
Why do wisdom teeth have to get removed?
Wisdom teeth are the molars at the very back of the mouth. Often there is not enough space for wisdom teeth to fully emerge from the gum. As a result, they may grow at odd angles and damage other teeth. In addition, the gum covering partially erupted teeth is prone to infection and trapping of food particles. Partially or fully erupted wisdom teeth are prone to developing cavities because they are difficult to clean and floss. Wisdom teeth are removed when they are causing problems such as pain, infection, and negative effects on surrounding teeth.
Can sinusitis cause molar teeth to hurt?
Allergic inflammation or infection of the sinuses can cause tooth pain. The upper molars are most likely to hurt since they are located close to the sinuses. Unlike other causes of tooth pain, which are restricted to the tooth affected by a particular process like a cavity, the pain associated with sinusitis will be felt in multiple teeth.
How can I prevent painful cavities in my molar teeth?
Unfortunately, molar teeth can be difficult to brush and floss due to their position in the back of the mouth. Brush at least twice a day and visit the dentist regularly for professional cleanings. Avoiding sugary and sticky foods will also help prevent cavities from developing. If you have a particularly high risk of cavities, your dentist may prescribe antibacterial or fluoride treatments.
Why does one of my molar teeth hurt when I have cold or hot food and liquids?
Pain with exposure to hot and cold indicates pulpitis, meaning inflammation of the pulp (the deepest part of the tooth). There may be damage due to a deep cavity or tooth trauma. Depending on the severity of pulpitis, the pain may immediately disappear after exposure to temperature extremes or may persist. It is important to seek treatment so that further damage can be prevented.
How do I know if my painful molar tooth is infected?
Molar tooth pain can be due to a developing infection within the tooth itself or the surrounding structures. An infection causes constant, severe tooth pain. As an untreated infection spreads, other signs like swelling and discharge may be present. In the most severe case where a tooth infection spreads through the mouth, fever, difficulty opening the mouth, and difficulty breathing will occur, requiring emergency treatment.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Molar Tooth Pain
- Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
- Q.Were you hit or injured anywhere on your face? If so, where?
- Q.Has your dentist or significant other ever told you that you grind your teeth in your sleep?
- Q.Does your tooth pain:
If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our molar tooth pain symptom checker to find out more.Take a quiz
Molar Tooth Pain Symptom Checker Statistics
People who have experienced molar tooth pain have also experienced:
- 7% Moderate Jaw Pain
- 7% Jaw Pain
- 5% Gum Swelling
People who have experienced molar tooth pain had symptoms persist for:
- 40% Less Than a Week
- 33% Less Than a Day
- 11% Over a Month
People who have experienced molar tooth pain were most often matched with:
- 27% Temporomandibular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder
- 4% Middle Ear Infection
- 2% Fibromyalgia
Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).