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Bruised Tooth: The Complete Guide

Updated: May 15, 2023

Your tooth can sustain an injury just like any other part of your body and become bruised. The sprained tooth could be sensitive or painful. Our long island city dentist will go over all of the causes, symptoms, treatments and prevention in this complete guide for a bruised tooth.

Crying child from sprained tooth
Crying child from sprained tooth

Table of contents:

What is a bruised tooth?

A tooth can become bruised if it sustains an unfavorable force or impact to it. Typically it'll be more than just the tooth that will be sprained because the tooth ligaments will be bruised as well. The reason is because the ligaments hold the tooth in place and any sort of pressure or shock will affect it as well.

Side commentary

Our LIC dentists find it interesting that people use the term bruised and sprained for a tooth because they're usually used for other body parts. A sprain is typically used to describe an injured muscle, tendon, or ligament while a bruise is used to describe a surface injury on the skin. We believe that the more accurate terminology for this condition would be a concussion, which describes an impact or injury to a hard tissue. Your skull and your teeth are bone made out of the same type of mineral, hydroxyapatite so it would be an accurate description.

Nonetheless, we will proceed with describing the symptoms of a bruised tooth.

Signs and Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of a tooth sprain starts off as pain and then followed by a dull ache. Usually you'll be to localize the symptoms to the affected tooth or teeth that were bruised.

Other common symptoms of a sprained tooth:

  • Inflammation

  • Sensitivity

  • Bleeding gums

  • Redness

  • Lingering soreness

  • Pain upon biting

  • Pain from putting pressure on the teeth


The appearance or color of the tooth is not a sign of a bruised tooth because it shouldn't look any different. If your tooth looks discolored like a grey tooth or a red tooth, that is actually a sign that it is a dead tooth rather than a bruised tooth. A dead tooth is a much more serious condition than a simple sprain.

dead front tooth that is grey

Bad signs

Another sign that may tell you that it is more than just a bruise is if you have throbbing tooth pain that comes and goes. This throbbing pain will come unprovoked meaning you weren't biting down or doing anything at all. That is an indication that your bruise has progressed to a nerve infection, which is also a much more serious condition.

Overall, what a bruised tooth feels like should just be a mild pain or tenderness without anything too severe. If it feels severe enough to interrupt your daily life, it is probably more than just a sprain. In that case you would need to see your dentist immediately.

What causes a bruised tooth?

The bruise is usually caused by a heavy force, impact, or trauma to your tooth.

  • Biting into a hard object. If you happen to bite into something hard the wrong way, you can cause a sprain to not only the tooth but also sprain the tooth ligament as well. This is because the ligament acts as a shock absorber for the tooth but if the force exceeds the shock absorbing capacity, you will sprain the ligament. Afterwards it will feel painful and tender to bite down.

  • Hitting your tooth. You could accidentally hit your tooth with a fork by missing your mouth. That impact from the fork can bruise the tooth ligament and you'll know immediately because your tooth will feel weird after the impact.

  • Nail biting. Your nails are pretty hard and all it takes is just biting down the wrong way.

  • Clenching your teeth. If you clench at night time, the pressure could cause a sprain.

  • Grinding your teeth. The side to side grinding motion will cause a lot of undue stress on the tooth ligaments.

  • Trauma. Alternatively you could also hit your tooth from playing sports and that is also a very common source of bruised tooth pain.

  • Overfilled tooth filling. If you recently had a tooth filled and the filling is too high, it could cause a ligament sprain when you bite down repeatedly. The reason is because the uneven bite will put a lot of pressure on one tooth. As soon as your dentist adjusts the bite, the pressure will distribute more evenly across all the teeth.

Toddlers are also very prone to bruising their teeth just from everyday activities while playing. According to statistics by uptodate, nearly 50% of children will sustain some type of injury to their tooth during childhood. Therefore its not uncommon for your child to fall down and bump their mouth against an object and end up with some bruised gums. You may even notice it bleed a little.

What will NOT cause a bruised tooth

A tooth infection will not cause a bruised tooth because that is just an infection. A bruised tooth may lead to an infection but once it does, it is no longer bruised.

Sinus problems will also not cause a tooth sprain because your teeth are not connected to your sinus. If your sinus is inflamed, it would just be sinusitis.

An under filled cavity filling will also not cause a bruise because only overfilled ones do. If anything, the under filled cavity will help alleviate bruised tooth pain instead.


Bruised tooth ligament treatment usually involves a soft food diet and avoiding chewing on the affected tooth. Both of these are done to give the tooth and its ligament time to heal. If you keep chewing on it or eating hard foods, you will only aggravate the tooth and it'll take longer to heal. The healing time could be anywhere from 2-4 weeks on average. It may take some people longer to recover from it if they are not complaint with the instructions.

There is usually not too much your dentist can do for you if your tooth gets a bruise because it will resolve on its own eventually. If the soreness is a little bit more than you can handle, you can always take some pain medication such as ibuprofen every 8 hours to relieve the pain. Otherwise if it is not too bad, you don't have to take any.

Home remedies for a bruised tooth

If you want to speed up the recovery time from the sprain, you can give some of these home remedies a try.

  • Eat soft foods. This one study found that soft foods such as orange juice, drinkable yogurt, and nutritional drinks can promote oral wound healing.

  • Keep the tooth clean. You should brush and floss every day to keep the tooth clean or else it could get infected and cause you more pain. We would also recommend a gentle mouth rinse such as salt water or even coconut oil pulling.

Overall you should have a nutritious diet so that your body has all the building blocks for repairing the sprain. Some chicken noodle soup always helped people recover faster.


Rather than having to treat it, the best thing to do is to prevent the sprain from happening.

  • If you're eating hard foods, you should chew slowly.

  • Abstain from bad habits such as nail biting.

  • If you grind your teeth or clench you should ask your dentist to make a night guard.

  • If you play a lot of sports, you should have a sports guard made.


This type of dental injury is usually not very serious and will typically resolve on its own when given enough time. You have to be patient and just be more cautious with the affected tooth by sticking to a soft food diet and also avoiding chewing on that side.

Although if you feel like the bruise is getting progressively worse, you should contact your dentist immediately because it may be progressing to a nerve infection. Your tooth may die and chance colors if it does. Worse case scenario, our emergency dentists in long island city can always help you!



David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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