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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

My teeth are hurting my tongue



Hello, I`m 38. About 18 months ago I went through a period of grinding my teeth at night and chipped some of the cusps of my back teeth. The remaining sharp ends were very irritating and I recently have had them smoothed off - with only mixed results. When I look at the sides of my tongue right at the back and the top I can see red sore areas and some bumps which hurt as I slide my tongue about over my back teeth. I guess I could have my dentist do some more smoothing but when I look at my friends teeth (I`ve become a bit obssessed) I see what look like rough areas and sharpish ridges etc but they are not in pain. My bite has shifted a bit since the smoothing and I don`t want to lower the height of the other back cusps if there`s a risk it might create some bad contacts and bad wear and the need for more smoothing in an endless spiral. Should I get crowns or is there something else I can do? Or is it all pychological by this point. I know that pain is a funny thing and maybe I had these sore spots before I chipped my teeth a year and a half ago? Thanks for your help.


The cause of the lesions on the tongue is unclear. Sores can develop from an irritating sharp area on a tooth but can also arise from the effects of stress. The grinding of the teeth is often related to stress.

The change in the bite may have resulted from the grinding not the smoothing or from over tense muscles caused by the grinding. Your dentist should be able to determine the source from an examination. The grinding needs to be dealt with. A night guard fabricated by the dentist may be the best option for that. It might be necessary to talk to the dentist about both problems as separate things so that relieving the pain from the sores does not overshadow the initial problem. After these problems are solved then have the dentist determine what type of restorations if any need to be done.

It is very difficult to say if crowns are necessary without evaluating the teeth. This is tough to answer without seeing the condition. Hope this helps a little.

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Response by:

Janet L Bolina, DDS
Clinical Associate Professor of Primary Care Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University

D Stanley Sharples, DDS
Clinical Assistant Professor of Primary Care Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University