Many of us have experienced the tooth pain that comes with eating very hot or cold foods. However, for some people, tooth pain also happens with sweet or spicy foods.
If you’ve ever started to enjoy a dessert, even if it’s not particularly cold or warm, you may have felt pain in your teeth. People don’t realize that this is actually a type of tooth sensitivity, just like being sensitive to hot or cold foods. Your teeth may ache or you may experience a sharp pain or tingling in your teeth when consuming sugary foods or drinks.
So why do your teeth hurt when you eat sweets? Here are some of the top reasons that next treat may cause you more than a stomachache.
Tooth Enamel Damage and Sugary Foods
Sugary foods and drinks can cause tooth discomfort in teeth that have experienced enamel damage. Tooth enamel damage is the primary source of tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks.
Tooth enamel can become damaged in a variety of ways. The top causes of tooth enamel damage include:
- Aggressive tooth brushing
- Brushing with a firm-bristled toothbrush
- Eating acidic or sugary foods
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Abnormal tooth wear from an improper bite
- Poor oral hygiene
As you can see, sugar is one of the primary reasons tooth enamel can erode over time, which means that sweets have both a cause and effect factor on tooth sensitivity—not only can sweets cause tooth sensitivity, but they can make tooth sensitivity worse.
Once tooth enamel is gone, it can’t be replaced, although you can help strengthen teeth by using fluoride toothpaste, practicing good oral hygiene, and eating a healthy diet.
Saliva contains nutrients from the foods you eat that can help remineralize teeth and strengthen tooth enamel, but if you’re consuming a lot of sugar in your diet and not a lot of nutritious foods, your pearly whites are more subject to damage than to healing.
How Do Sweets Impact Oral Health?
Sweets don’t just exacerbate tooth sensitivity. Since they can harm tooth enamel, tooth decay is more likely. Research shows that a diet high in added sugar—whether from soft drinks, baked goods, or processed foods—can cause cavities.
A diet high in sugar can also cause more plaque in the oral cavity. Plaque has a number of effects on your smile—not only does it increase your risk for cavities, but it can also cause receding gums, which can contribute to tooth sensitivity with sweets.
If you have cavities, gum disease, gum recession, or worn-down teeth, it’s likely that your tooth pain when eating sweets will be worse because the teeth are already damaged. When teeth have existing damage, the bacteria and acids that sweets produce when broken down in the mouth can cause pain and sensitivity.
Tooth enamel erosion, such as that that can occur from frequent sugar consumption, can also cause tooth discoloration. Since tooth enamel protects teeth, when it’s worn away, the softer tissues underneath, including dentin, can show through. These tissues are more prone to discoloration than tooth enamel.
Treatment for Tooth Sensitivity to Sweets
The good news is that there is treatment for tooth sensitivity to sweets.
Using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth may help. Your dentist in Asheville can recommend a specific type of toothpaste or a prescription toothpaste if needed to help with your sensitive teeth.
If you have worn-down teeth or enamel erosion, you may need professional in-office treatments, such as dental bonding, fluoride applications, or potentially even a dental crown to help correct and protect damaged teeth.
Existing cavities will need to be filled. If you have gum disease, your Asheville dentist will discuss treatment options with you based on your specific condition, including a deep cleaning, antibiotics, or additional treatment measures.
Should you have an early cavity, you may be able to treat it without a filling. Always follow up with your professional dentist to ensure that you receive the correct diagnosis and treatment for your tooth sensitivity.
How to Prevent the Pain From Getting Worse
In addition to treating any underlying dental problems, such as enamel erosion from sugar consumption or tooth damage, there are things you can do to help prevent your tooth sensitivity to sweets from getting worse.
- Reduce your sugar intake. Decreasing the amount of added sugar you consume every day can help your tooth pain when eating sweets. Not only will it help your discomfort, but it will also help prevent your enamel damage from getting worse—and it may just help prevent cavities.
- Quit vaping. Vaping products often contain flavorings that can coat the teeth with plaque, similar to soft drinks and a high sugar diet. Consider quitting vaping to protect your smile (and your health).
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Using a toothbrush with soft bristles can protect your tooth enamel and prevent further damage to your teeth. It will also be easier on your gum tissue to help prevent gum recession.
- Avoid brushing immediately after a meal. Waiting a minimum of 30 minutes and up to an hour before brushing your teeth after a meal will also help protect your tooth enamel and prevent sensitivity from getting worse.
- Chew sugarless gum. Chewing sugarless gum right after a meal or any time of day can help increase saliva production and the quality of your saliva to nourish teeth and buffer them from acids and bacteria.
As always, keeping up with your regular dental visits is imperative to protecting your smile, identifying oral health problems early, and reducing sensitivity. Your dentist may be able to help you reduce your sensitivity with treatments such as fluoride applications as needed.
When to See Your Dentist
If you’re experiencing any type of tooth pain, it’s important to follow up with your dentist. It can be difficult to tell if your pain is related to hypersensitivity or if there’s another problem going on without a professional. Contact Saunders DDS today to book a checkup and exam to find out what’s causing your tooth pain when eating sweets—call us at (828) 277-6060 or reach us online.
Don’t let your tooth sensitivity impact your quality of life. If your sensitivity symptoms become unbearable, contact our dentist for treatment options or call us at (828) 277-6060