After an evening of trick-or-treating, has your child ever asked you, “Why do my teeth hurt when I eat sweets?”
Perhaps you’re the one asking this question. As the winter holidays approach, sugary treats seem to be making an appearance at every turn! Even if you enjoy sweets, sugar sensitivity is a real problem for many people—and not just during the holidays.
Tooth sensitivity can cause symptoms of mild to severe pain, taking a lot of the fun out of Halloween candy and other desserts. If you’ve been wondering, “Why do my teeth hurt after eating sweets?” then you should schedule an appointment to see a dentist soon. At Penn Dental Family Practice, we can help you find relief from sore teeth by addressing its root cause. Even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal, tooth pain acts as a warning sign so that you can avoid developing a serious dental condition.
Sensitive teeth may have a variety of causes. A thorough dental examination will allow the dentist to determine exactly what is causing your symptoms and what can be done to address them. Penn Dental Family Practice provides targeted dental care for a variety of conditions associated with tooth sensitivity. Here are four of the most common culprits:
Enamel is the outer protective layer of the teeth. A loss of either enamel or cementum, the layer that covers the roots, can expose the teeth’s inner nerves and pulp, which heightens sensitivity to sweet substances as well as very hot or cold foods. When the enamel weakens, the teeth become vulnerable to dental decay and fracturing, the precursors of tooth loss.
An abrupt sensitivity to sugar can also be caused by acute trauma to the teeth. A crack or fracture may expose the nerves, leading to intensified tooth pain. When the damage is acute, the sensitivity remains isolated to one area.
Another source of sensitivity is the presence of a cavity. Plaque is made up of bacteria colonies that accumulate on the teeth and feed on sugars ingested from food. This process produces acid, which eats away at the tooth’s enamel. If left untreated, these pits can increase in size and become sites for infection.
Tooth Whitening Treatments
If you’re experiencing sensitivity following a whitening treatment, it’s likely that the product is the party responsible. Some patients report tooth discomfort after at-home or professional tooth whitening. The good news is that the pain is usually short-lived. If it lasts more than a day or two, though, be sure to contact your dentist.
Depending upon the underlying cause of your pain, different treatments may be used. Your dentist will determine your diagnosis through an oral examination, and, in some cases, a dental radiography (X-rays) is needed.
When the problem is enamel thinning, the dentist may apply a fluoride treatment to remineralize the teeth. Enamel cannot grow back, but remineralization pushes calcium and phosphorus back into the teeth. This chemical process makes the teeth more resistant to plaque. When the enamel damage is more advanced, dental bonding may be recommended. Dental bonding utilizes a dental composite resin, which bonds to the teeth when a dental curing light is shone on it. This “bonding” hardens the teeth, providing stronger protection.
In the case of tooth damage, your dentist may refer you to an endodontist if the trauma is severe or if you have an infection. When the damage is minor, the dentist will often place a crown on the chipped tooth in order to protect it from further trauma or bacterial invasion.
A cavity may require a multi-prong approach to treatment, again depending on how much the disease has progressed. A fluoride treatment can, in some cases, reverse a cavity in the early stages of its development.
If the cavity is more advanced, your dentist may discuss various restorative options with you, such as fillings, crowns, endodontic treatment, or tooth extractions. Please note that tooth extractions should be seen as a final recourse, since losing a tooth comes with its own set of problems. Without a bridge or dental implant to fill in the gap, missing teeth can cause the surrounding teeth to shift, leading to future structural problems.
Finally, root canal therapy can be used to save an infected tooth in many cases. After the endodontist removes the diseased pulp from the root, he or she will replace the pulp with a filling and cover it with a crown.
If your dentist determines that the sensitivity is due to a whitening treatment, your discomfort should be only temporary. In the meantime, your dentist can apply a liquid varnish product to provide relief for an extended period. Your dentist may also prescribe a gel or toothpaste to use at home.
Any kind of pain, especially dental pain, is a warning sign and should be taken seriously. Many times it will only worsen when left untreated. If your teeth hurt while eating sweets, we encourage patients to visit us so that we can evaluate the cause of your sensitivity and provide treatment in a timely manner. PDFP dentists are highly knowledgeable professionals who teach at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.
To schedule your visit at Penn Dental Family Practice, please call us at 215-898-PDFP(7337) today.