A close up of the woman's mouth eating chocolate

Are Your Teeth Sensitive To Sugar?

While you might have heard of people having tooth sensitivity when drinking something very hot or cold, did you know that your teeth can also be sensitive to sugar? If you love the taste of a sugary soft drink after a long day at work, you might not be realizing the toll the sugar in these drinks can have on your teeth. Read on to know the signs of tooth sensitivity and how to treat it.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

If your teeth are healthy, a layer of enamel will cover and protect the crown of your teeth (the part above your gum line). Underneath the enamel lies the dentin, which is much less dense than enamel and contains microscopic tubes and canals. If you lose enamel on your teeth, hot, acidic, cold, or sugary foods can reach your dentin, causing tooth sensitivity.

According to the Ontario Dental Association, some reasons for losing enamel include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Consuming acidic foods and beverages
  • Aggressive brushing (which can wear enamel)
  • Receding gums
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

How will you know if your teeth are sensitive? If you have sensitive teeth, you may experience pain or discomfort as a response to any of the following: sweet food or beverages, hot or cold food or drinks, acidic food or beverages, brushing or flossing, and even cold air or cold water. You may feel this pain or discomfort at the root of the tooth.

Why Does Sugar Hurt My Teeth?

Although sugary treats and drinks can be delicious, they can erode or dissolve your enamel. There is a link between high sugar diets and an increased risk of tooth decay according to the Ontario Dental Hygienists' Association. The acid-producing bacteria eat the enamel, causing tooth sensitivity and even cavities. Then, ironically, when you consume more of these sugary drinks or candy, they can trigger the same pain that they created in the first place since your teeth are now sensitive to sugar.

Remedies for Sensitive Teeth

If you're concerned that you might be experiencing tooth sensitivity your dentist may suggest one of the following treatments:

Sensitive toothpaste. Brushing regularly with a special desensitizing toothpaste can help seal the tubes of the dentin and act as a protective cover to block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve- though it may require multiple applications.

Fluoride varnish. The fluoride varnish will be applied to your teeth during your dental appointment by the dental hygienist. The varnish will harden on the teeth and reduce the transmission of nerve impulses to the teeth and strengthen tooth enamel.

Bonding or composite restoration. Bonding is a more permanent fix where a layer of tooth-coloured composite resin is applied to exposed, sensitive roots.

Surgical gum graft: If the root of your tooth has lost gum tissue, a surgical gum graft will be completed by a periodontist to replace the lost gum tissue, protect your root, and reduce tooth sensitivity.

Root canal: If sensitivity persists, your dentist may recommend this treatment.

Additionally, proper oral hygiene is key. You might also want to alter your eating habits and cut down on the amount of sugar or sugary drinks you consume so that you keep your enamel protected.

If you’re wondering, “why does sugar hurt my teeth?” then it’s time to check in with your dentist. Tooth sensitivity is highly treatable, and a little care and caution go a long way in keeping tooth sensitivity at bay!