Cakes, candies, chocolates, cupcakes and other sweets are a great indulgence. However, if you feel pain in your teeth when you eat sweets, it can be tough to enjoy them. What can you do when your teeth hurt from eating sweets? Here are some reasons why sweets may be triggering tooth pain and a few solutions that can help.
Teeth Sensitivity From Sugar
When your teeth hurt from eating sweets, it’s most likely caused by the erosion of tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the tough outer covering that protects the softer tissue, called dentin, within your teeth. When the tooth enamel weakens, it can expose these soft tissues. These soft tissues have small tubules which connect to the nerves. When certain foods contact these tubules, it can disrupt the nerves and cause pain. If you have sensitive teeth, you might feel pain when you consume hot or cold foods or drinks, acidic foods like sodas or fruit juices, or sugary foods, like desserts, chocolates, or candies.
Here are a few of the causes of weakened tooth enamel:
- Gum disease: If your gums are not healthy, they will start to pull away from the teeth. This will expose parts of the teeth that are not protected by enamel.
- Lack of brushing and flossing: A lack of brushing and flossing causes bacteria to build up. These bacteria produce acids that will wear away the enamel.
- Teeth grinding: Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, puts too much pressure on the teeth. This causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and expose the sensitive dentin.
- Brushing too hard: Putting too much pressure on your teeth when you brush will cause teeth enamel to erode.
- Excessive tooth whitening: Teeth whitening products are meant to sink through the enamel and whiten the yellowish dentin. Using these products too often can erode the enamel.
- Cracked or damaged teeth: If your teeth are cracked, chipped, or damaged, the dentin will be exposed, causing pain.
Teeth Sensitivity and Cavities
The erosion of tooth enamel is one cause of tooth sensitivity, but cavities can also cause your teeth to hurt when you eat sweets. If you have an untreated cavity, bacteria will eat away at the soft dentin in your teeth and form a small hole. The hole will get worse and the bacteria will multiply as long as the cavity goes untreated. When you eat sweets, contact with the weakened area of the tooth can cause pain. Since these bacteria feed on sugars and starches leftover from foods, sugary sweets can make cavities worse.
What to Do When Your Teeth Hurt From Eating Sweets
See Your Dentist
If your teeth hurt from eating sweets, the first thing to do is to see your dentist. Your dentist can clean and inspect your teeth, and assess the cause of your teeth sensitivity. If you have a cavity, your dentist can fill it, which should solve teeth sensitivity in that area. Or, if your gums are receding due to gum disease, tooth grinding, or bacteria, your dentist can give you the right treatment options.
Try Fluoride Treatments
Fluoride treatments from your dentist can help remineralize your teeth and restore your enamel. Though your enamel can’t regenerate on its own like other tissues, fluoride treatments use compounds that bond with tooth enamel to restore weak spots. This can help to reduce tooth sensitivity and stop your teeth from hurting when eating sweets and other foods.
Use a Soft Toothbrush
If you’re brushing too hard or your tooth enamel is weakened from other causes, a hard-bristled toothbrush can erode the enamel faster. Look for a soft toothbrush in stores instead.
Try Products for Sensitive Teeth
A variety of toothpastes, mouthwashes, and other products are made to treat sensitive teeth. These products use compounds like potassium nitrate to desensitize the nerves in the teeth and reduce the pain you feel when eating sweets and other foods.
Use a Mouthguard at Night
If teeth-grinding is causing your gums to pull away from your teeth and expose the dentin, a mouthguard can reduce the pressure on your teeth. Most people who grind their teeth do so at night, so wearing a mouthguard at night can help stop this problem. You can find an over-the-counter mouthguard or your dentist can fit a mouthguard especially for you.
If your teeth hurt from eating sweets, it can be tough to enjoy them. Make an appointment with your dentist to get to the root of your problem, and solve it.