Teeth Sensitive to Sugar: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
Why Teeth Become Sensitive to Sugar
We often hear that eating sugary foods and drinking soda is bad for our teeth. But some people experience intense pain whenever they eat or drink something sweet. This situation can be rather uncomfortable, especially if you have a sweet tooth as well as teeth sensitive to sugar.
There are many possible causes of teeth sensitivity to sugar. Usually, teeth or gums get damaged, and they become sensitive to hot, cold, acidic, or sugary food and drinks. In most cases, people need dental sealants to protect the damaged area. If you need a teeth sealant at Northwest Dental Group, get in touch with the office to book an appointment.
But how do teeth become so damaged in the first place? And how can sugar cause us pain? Let’s explore.
Most Common Reasons Our Teeth Are Sensitive to Sugar
Loss of Enamel (Dentin)
Enamel is the outer layer of the teeth that protects them from bacteria and decay. If our teeth are losing enamel, they can become more sensitive to sweets. So, how does this happen?
If we brush our teeth too vigorously or use a toothbrush with hard or medium bristles, we risk damaging the enamel. To avoid this, try using a soft-bristle toothbrush and gently brushing the teeth with circular movements.
Also, certain types of food and drink can wear out the teeth’s outer layer — for instance, pickles, cranberries, tomato in any form, coffee, and alcohol. When we eat this type of food and don’t rinse or brush our teeth afterward, a strong acid is produced in the mouth. This acid removes minerals from tooth enamel and causes erosion. Damaged enamel leaves our teeth vulnerable and sensitive to sugar.
Human saliva has minerals that help restore the lost minerals on the teeth’ surface. However, if we constantly snack and don’t rinse or brush afterward, the saliva has less chance to replace the minerals.
Cavities (Tooth Decay)
If we have teeth sensitive to sugar, it can mean more than just enamel damage — we might have cavities. When enamel gets worn out, bacteria and acid can enter the dentin — the soft, inner part of our teeth — and create cavities. Cavities start out as holes in enamel that become bigger over time. Sugar, acid, and bacteria can enter those holes and cause sharp pain.
Therefore, it’s essential to see the dentist as soon as we start feeling any tooth sensitivity and pain. The dentist will be able to fill the cavities and save the teeth from further damage.
Gum Disease (Gingivitis)
Our mouths contain bacteria that feed on sugar, which can form a sticky film — plaque — on the teeth or under the gums. In the long run, plaque buildup causes damage to the enamel and causes cavities. Moreover, when plaque hardens on teeth, it becomes tartar. Both plaque and tartar irritate gums and cause inflammation, infection, swelling, or bleeding.
Gums usually cover the sensitive part of the tooth — the root. If the gums are swollen or infected, the root can become exposed, and any sweet treat can cause sharp pain.
Some health conditions can even cause gums to recede, which leaves the roots permanently exposed. Moreover, if you are suffering from receding gums, smoking and vigorous brushing can make matters worse.
It is possible to have teeth sensitive to sugar if one or more of them are cracked. Usually, a crack is the result of serious trauma, such as a car accident or sports injury. However, it is important to note that teeth grinding also causes damage and wears out enamel, which can increase sensitivity.
Tooth Whitening Treatments
Tooth whitening treatments involve substances that can create temporary sensitivity. However, this should fade after a few days.
Treatments for Teeth Sensitive to Sugar
As with any dental problem, if we experience sensitivity to sugar, it would be best to consult with a dentist. They might suggest some of the following treatments.
Sensitivity or remineralizing toothpaste works by coating the teeth and helping enamel regenerate.
Fluoride makes the teeth more resistant to acid and sugary food and helps remineralization of enamel. Fluoride comes in many forms, such as a gel or mouthwash. Moreover, your dentist might decide to apply fluoride varnish to your teeth. Varnish will help strengthen the enamel, harden the teeth and reduce sensitivity.
If we have teeth sensitive to sugar because of cavities, the best course of action would be to get them filled. This way, sugar, acid, and bacteria won’t be able to come in contact with the inner part of the tooth and cause pain.
Teeth sealants are thin coatings placed on chewing surfaces to protect teeth from decay for many years. They seal vulnerable places, so the food and bacteria can’t enter. Most often, children get them for molars, but adults can get sealants too.
Deep Cleaning and Scaling
We can treat gingivitis and receding gums with deep cleaning and scaling. This treatment involves scraping the plaque from teeth as well as taking antibiotics. However, if the case of receding gums is too severe, the dentist might recommend surgery.
For those of us with a habit of grinding teeth, a mouthguard can be a good solution. We should wear the mouthguard at night to protect the teeth and enamel from damage.
If we want to avoid having teeth sensitive to pain, we can use some of the following tips:
- Since sugar is generally bad for the teeth, we should start with avoiding sugar.
- However, if we have a sweet tooth and are unwilling to give up treats, we can be sure to brush and rinse after each meal. The same goes for other unhealthy food such as potato chips.
- Also, avoid smoking, vaping, or chewing nicotine.
- We should pay attention to proper oral hygiene. This means gently brushing our teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush at least twice a day and flossing regularly.
- Avoid using alcohol-based mouthwash.
- We should also have a dental check-up twice a year. This way, the dentist will be able to notice cavities and other potential issues early.
Having teeth sensitive to sugar can be unpleasant and painful and, what’s worse, there are so many things that can cause this condition. So, it would be best to visit a dentist’s office as soon as possible. The dentist will determine if you have cavities, damaged enamel, or gum disease and propose the right treatment.