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.
Are Your Teeth Sensitive To Sugar?
If your teeth are healthy, a layer of enamel will cover and protect the crown of your teeth (the part above your gumline). 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 American Dental Association, some reasons for losing enamel are:
- Cavities or tooth decay
- Ingesting acidic foods and drinks
- Wear and tear of enamel from brushing too hard and acidic foods or drinks
- Receding gums
- Acid reflux
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.
Although sugary treats and drinks can be delicious, they can erode or dissolve your enamel. According to the Indiana Dental Association, the mouth’s bacteria reacts to the sugar in treats and drinks, producing acid. 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.
If you’re concerned that you might be experiencing tooth sensitivity, you must see your dentist, who will most likely suggest one or several of these treatments:
Sensitive toothpaste. The ingredients in sensitive toothpaste help block transmissions of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve but may require multiple applications before your teeth feel less sensitive.
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.
Crown, inlay/onlay, or composite restoration. Once the decay is removed, the dentist will determine if a crown, inlay or onlay, or composite resin is needed.
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!