Understanding the Causes: Why Does It Hurt To Swallow and What Can Help?

posted in: General Dentistry | 0

When it comes to oral health, we often focus on issues like cavities, gum disease, and toothaches, but there’s another aspect that deserves our attention – the discomfort of swallowing. If you’ve ever experienced pain while swallowing, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons ‘why does it hurt to swallow’ from a dental perspective, and we’ll also provide guidance on what you can do to alleviate the discomfort.

Why Does It Hurt to Swallow?

Dental Issues

Dental problems can play a significant role in causing discomfort when swallowing. One common culprit is a dental abscess. An abscess is a painful infection that can develop at the root of a tooth or in the gums. When it becomes severe, it can lead to pain not only in the mouth but also when swallowing. This is because the infection can spread, causing inflammation and pressure in the surrounding tissues.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay, if left untreated, can progress to the point where it affects the nerve inside the tooth. This can lead to a condition known as pulpitis, which causes severe tooth pain and can radiate to the throat and jaw. Swallowing may become painful as a result.

TMJ Disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull and plays a crucial role in various oral functions, including swallowing. TMJ disorders can lead to jaw pain, facial pain, and difficulty in moving the jaw. These symptoms can contribute to discomfort when swallowing.

Dry Mouth

Saliva is essential for oral health as it helps to lubricate the mouth and aid in the process of swallowing. If you suffer from dry mouth, a condition called xerostomia, you may experience discomfort when swallowing food or liquids due to inadequate moisture in the mouth. Dry mouth can result from various factors, including medications, certain medical conditions, and dehydration.


Why Does It Hurt to Swallow


What Should I Do if It Hurts to Swallow?

Consult a Dentist

If you’re experiencing pain when swallowing, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. They can examine your oral health and identify any underlying dental issues that may be causing the discomfort. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent the problem from worsening.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Prevention is always better than cure. To reduce the risk of dental problems that can lead to painful swallowing, maintain a strict oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss daily, and visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings.

Should I Be Worried if It Hurts to Swallow?

While not all cases of painful swallowing indicate a serious problem, it’s essential not to ignore this symptom. Dental issues can worsen if left untreated and may lead to more significant complications. If you experience persistent pain when swallowing, it’s best to consult a dentist to rule out any underlying dental concerns.

Why Does My Throat Hurt When I Swallow But I’m Not Sick?

It’s not uncommon for people to wonder why does it hurt to swallow, even when they are not sick. As discussed earlier, dental problems, such as abscesses and tooth decay, can be responsible for this discomfort. Additionally, issues like TMJ disorders and dry mouth can also contribute to throat pain during swallowing.

Throat Pain When Swallowing Home Remedies

While seeking professional dental care is crucial for addressing the root causes of painful swallowing, there are some home remedies you can try to alleviate the discomfort temporarily:

Saltwater Gargle: Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in warm water and gargle with it. This can help reduce inflammation and provide some relief.

Hydration: Stay well-hydrated to prevent dry mouth. Sipping water throughout the day can help keep your throat moist.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relief: Non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage pain while you wait for dental treatment.


Painful swallowing can be a distressing experience, but it’s essential to address the underlying causes, especially from a dental perspective. Dental issues such as abscesses, tooth decay, and TMJ disorders can all contribute to this discomfort. Consult your dentist for a thorough evaluation and follow their guidance to maintain optimal oral health. Remember that early intervention is key to preventing more severe dental problems and ensuring your swallowing discomfort is resolved.