With the holiday season here, it seems like there are sugary treats around every corner. While you might not be able to resist your Grandma’s brownies or some delicious cookies right out of the oven, it’s possible enjoying these foods can cause tooth sensitivity or pain. If you’ve never had any trouble before, you might be asking yourself, “Why do my teeth hurt when I eat sweets?”
Even if you typically enjoy sweets, sugar sensitivity that causes tooth pain is a real problem for many people—and not just during the holidays. Tooth sensitivity can be mild to severe, but at any level, it can take away from your enjoyment of dessert.
If you’ve been wondering why your teeth are sensitive to sugar, schedule an appointment with a dentist soon. Even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal, tooth pain is a warning sign, and prompt treatment can help prevent a more serious dental condition from developing. At Penn Dental Family Practice, we can help you find relief from sore teeth by addressing the root cause — not from giving up your favorite sweets forever.
Several things can lead to sensitive teeth. The only way to know for sure is to have a thorough dental examination. This allows the dentist to determine the exact cause of your symptoms, and how to treat 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 for why your teeth hurt when you eat sweets: Enamel loss, tooth damage, cavities, and teeth whitening treatments.
Enamel is the outer protective layer of the teeth. Losing either enamel or cementum, the layer that covers the roots can expose the teeths’ inner nerves and pulp. This can heighten sensitivity to sweet substances and very hot or cold foods. Weaken enamel leaves your teeth vulnerable to dental decay and fracturing, which may eventually lead to tooth loss.
If your teeth are sensitive to sugar all of a sudden, it may be due to acute trauma or damage to your teeth. For example, a crack or fracture can expose the nerves and intensify tooth pain. What makes this type of sensitivity different is that it stays isolated to the injured area.
Cavities can also be a source of tooth sensitivity. 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, ultimately causing pain.
If you’re experiencing sensitivity following a whitening treatment, the product may be 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, contact your dentist.
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Depending on the cause of your pain, you have different options. Dentists make diagnoses with oral exams. Sometimes, you may need dental radiographs (X-rays) to find the source of the pain.
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.
For more advanced enamel loss, 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 them. 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. For minor damage, the dentist may place a crown on the chipped tooth, which protects 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. Fluoride treatment can, in some cases, reverse decay in the earliest stages of its development.
If the cavity is more advanced, your dentist may discuss restorative options, such as fillings, crowns, endodontic treatment, or tooth extractions. Tooth extractions are the last resort 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 save an infected tooth in many cases. After the endodontist removes the diseased pulp from the root, they will replace the pulp with a filling and cover it with a crown.
If your dentist determines that the sensitivity is due to whitening treatment, your discomfort should be temporary. In the meantime, your dentist can apply a liquid varnish product to provide relief for an extended period. They may also prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste or gel 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 we can evaluate the cause of the sensitivity and provide treatment quickly. 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, click here to request an appointment or call us at 215-898-PDFP(7337) today.