We all know sugar can negatively impact our overall health and especially our teeth. But it can be quite challenging to moderate or cut out sweet treats. So, what alternatives are there? And why are your teeth so sensitive to sugar in the first place?
Teeth can become sensitive due to enamel damage. Acid and sugar can dissolve your enamel, leading to decay, sensitivity, and other health concerns. To avoid these issues, cut sweets from your diet and practice good oral hygiene techniques. Contact your dentist for a checkup if symptoms persist.
You may not have to cut out sugar entirely if you’re experiencing sensitivity and discomfort. However, you may experience more severe health consequences if you don’t adjust your lifestyle and handle these issues as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know.
How Does Sugar Affect Your Teeth?
We all know we should try to avoid sugar to achieve a healthier lifestyle and overall well-being. Do you know why, though? Besides other health complications, sugar can have harmful effects on your teeth, resulting in decay.
Your mouth contains beneficial and harmful bacteria. The two types of harmful bacteria are known as Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. When you consume sugar from drinks or food, it begins to interact with the harmful bacteria in your mouth.
This interaction produces acid and plaque in the process. The acid, in turn, starts to dissolve and erode your enamel, resulting in cavities and decay.
Normally, your saliva fights off this wear and tear. However, consuming sugar in large amounts means there’s more acid than your saliva can handle. That results in softened enamel, sensitivity, and eventual decay.
Besides producing enamel-dissolving acids, sugar also attracts bacteria that can cause gingivitis and gum disease. These problems can cause your gums to recede, destroying your teeth and oral health in the process.
Why Are Your Teeth Sensitive to Sweets?
Experiencing sensitivity and discomfort when eating sweets is no one’s cup of tea, and there are few reasons it might be occurring. Here are some to keep in mind.
Foods high in carbohydrates and sugary drinks can cause enamel erosion. The sugars and carbs interact with harmful bacteria in the mouth, producing acid.
If the acid isn’t rinsed or brushed away, it starts to remove minerals from tooth enamel, causing tooth decay. This process makes your teeth more sensitive to temperatures and stimuli.
Cavities are one of the main culprits of tooth sensitivity. Foods high in sugar or carbs can cause decay. The bacteria found in your mouth turn these foods into acid. The acid and harmful bacterias combine to form plaque, which sticks to your teeth.
This leads to enamel erosion, creating cracks and holes in your teeth known as cavities. Food particles can also get caught in cavities, resulting in increased sensitivity.
Gingivitis and Gum Disease
Unaddressed plaque buildup and harmful bacteria can lead to gum disease or gingivitis. Plaque can harden on your teeth, and the hardened plaque becomes tartar. Tartar and plaque irritate the gums, causing sensitivity in the process. Some symptoms include:
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
Sore and inflamed gums can increase tooth sensitivity. This is because the more sensitive areas and nerve endings of your teeth are exposed.
Over-the-counter and professional-grade whitening products can also cause sensitivity. These products, like Crest 3D Whitestrips (on Amazon), contain hydrogen peroxide as their main ingredient. Hydrogen peroxide can remove surface stains and whiten teeth.
However, the peroxide has to penetrate deep within the tooth to do so. The active ingredient can reach sensitive areas in your teeth, causing heightened sensitivity and short-term discomfort.
How Can You Prevent Tooth Sensitivity to Sweets?
There are a few different tips and tricks you can implement to prevent your teeth from being so sensitive to sweets.
Avoid Certain Foods
Eating and drinking foods high in sugar can cause damage to your enamel, resulting in cavities and decay. Try to cut out the following foods to prevent sensitive teeth:
Hard Candies: Hard candies high in sugar can damage your teeth. Sucking on hard candies for too long increases the amount of acid in your mouth. This increased exposure time generates more damage.
Gummy and Sticky Sweets: Gummy candies stick to your teeth and get caught in the nooks and crannies around your mouth. This gives bacteria more time to grow and harm your teeth. Avoid gummy bears, dried fruit, icing, and even honey.
Orange Juice: Although orange juice seems like a healthy option, it can also damage your teeth. Orange juice and other citrus drinks are high in sugars and naturally occurring citric acid. These factors can erode your teeth over time.
Carbonated Sodas: Carbonated beverages such as soda are extremely dangerous for your teeth. These drinks are high in sugar and acid, which erode enamel over time.
Rinse After Eating
Try swishing or rinsing your mouth out with tap water after consuming sugary foods or beverages. Rinsing your mouth out after consuming sugar helps reduce the bacteria and acidity in your mouth. This process returns your mouth’s pH balance back to normal, preventing damage over time.
Those who are also experiencing sensitivity to cold water can try using lukewarm water to rinse instead. And some may choose to avoid the rinsing option entirely because it makes their underlying symptoms even worse.
Brush and Floss Regularly
Brushing and flossing regularly is the best way to prevent damage to your teeth, enamel, and gums. Be sure to brush twice a day and floss at least once per day.
Use a high-quality toothpaste like Sensodyne Pronamel (on Amazon) and a soft-bristle toothbrush. You can also consider switching to a desensitizing toothpaste as well.
Use a Straw
If you’re drinking a sugary beverage, be sure to sip through a straw. Using a straw or sipper can minimize the amount of exposure your teeth have to acidity. The less exposure your teeth have to harmful bacteria, the better.
Wait Before Brushing Your Teeth
It’s best to wait a little bit before brushing your teeth if you recently consumed something high in carbs, sugar, or acidity. Brushing immediately afterward can increase the damage to your softened enamel.
For the best results, wait around 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
Consult Your Dentist
If possible, visit and consult your dentist on a regular basis. Getting a professional cleaning twice a year can drastically improve your oral health and prevent damage down the line. Your dentist will also be able to determine if you have gingivitis, a cavity, or any other dental issues.
How Do You Get Rid of Tooth Pain From Sweets?
Cutting out sweets entirely may not be necessary to address your tooth pain. However, these issues should be handled as soon as possible to avoid more severe health complications down the line. Here are some short-term methods to alleviate painful symptoms.
Take Over-the-Counter Painkillers
Over-the-counter pain medication like Ibuprofen, Motrin, or Advil (on Amazon) can temporarily alleviate pain. These painkillers are designed to help ease inflammation, sensitivity, and discomfort.
Ask your primary care doctor or dentist if these products are right for you. Be sure to follow all the dosing instructions and guidelines as directed.
Don’t Brush Your Teeth as Hard
Applying too much pressure when brushing your teeth can increase wear, sensitivity, and discomfort. Be sure to brush your teeth and gums in a gentle circular motion.
You should also incorporate a soft-bristle toothbrush, like the Nimbus (on Amazon), into your oral hygiene routine.
Switch to a Different Toothpaste
Consider switching the kind of toothpaste you use to prevent sensitivity and discomfort. Your teeth become more sensitive as they wear down from age. This sensitivity can expose the inner layers of your teeth, resulting in increased pain and discomfort.
Try switching to a desensitizing toothpaste. Find products that contain potassium nitrate, like Sensodyne (on Amazon). Potassium nitrate can block pain signals from the nerves in your teeth. Be sure to consult your dental hygienist beforehand to determine which products work for you.
Start Using Fluoride Products
Switching to fluoride products can give your teeth an edge when it comes to sweet treats. Fluoride is a natural mineral found all over the world. Here are some benefits to fluoride-based products:
- Lowers the acidity in your mouth
- Can strengthen tooth enamel overtime
- Aids in the rebuilding and strengthening process
- Helps protect your teeth from sensitivity, discomfort, and pain
You can find fluoride in oral hygiene products such as toothpaste, mouthwashes, gels, and foams. Consult your dental professional to determine which products and brands work for you.