If you’re searching for the cause of your tooth ache, then look no further than your treat cupboard because the reason for your pain is probably hidden among the snacks.

Not only do carbohydrates and simple sugars cause tooth sensitivity, but they also trigger the sudden, sharp pain you get when you’re eating sweet foods

What is tooth sensitivity?

The pain associated with sensitive teeth occurs when the tooth’s protective layer (enamel) wears away and exposes the delicate nerves inside. When food, fluid, or extreme temperatures make contact with the nerve, it triggers pain. 

Most people associate the pain caused by tooth sensitivity with a sharp, intense stabbing pain while eating or drinking. You might also experience a dull, constant ache, or even pain in the side of your face.

Watch out for tooth pain when you are brushing and flossing – pressure on the fragile interior of the teeth (dentin) can also cause sudden pain. 

Is sugar to blame?

Plaque is a sticky soft film that contains bacteria and it clings to your teeth, making them feel fuzzy. When you eat sugary food and drinks that contain fermentable carbohydrates, they mix with the bacteria to produce acid. Too much acid can wear away the enamel on your teeth and leave the sensitive interior exposed. 

Not all sugary foods are created equal, the worst offenders are: 

  • fizzy drinks – carbonated drinks like cola contain sugar and acid. A diet high in acidic foods can cause tooth enamel to wear away quickly.
  • orange juice – not an obvious one and certainly not as bad as fizzy drinks, but orange juice is also high in sugar and contains citric acid. 
  • anything sticky – things like honey, dried fruit, or chewy sweets, can cling to your teeth, which gives bacteria more time to grow.  
  • hard sweets – eating sweets like hard candy or cough drops that you have to suck, creates the ideal environment for bacteria to grow.  

Protecting your gums is just as important as your teeth. Plaque frequently collects along the gum line, which can cause gum disease or severe infection. 

The enamel on your teeth stops at the gum line – relying on your gum to protect the fragile part of your tooth usually hidden away. Damage to your gum, caused by things like gum disease can expose the sensitive part of your tooth and cause pain.

Tooth cavities and decay

Tooth sensitivity to sweets could be a sign of a cavity.

If plaque is allowed to build up, it can cause cavities in your teeth. Cavities are tiny holes, sometimes referred to as dental caries. These holes open up a route for bacteria to reach the soft pulp in the middle of the tooth causing tooth sensitivity.

Other signs you may have a cavity, include:  

  • tooth ache in one tooth
  • pain when you bite down 
  • discolouring/staining on your teeth
  • bad breath 
  • an unpleasant taste in your mouth 

If you have a cavity, your dentist might recommend a crown, or filling, to cover the hole, or a root canal to remove the decayed part of your tooth. But there’s every reason to be optimistic, because caught early, tooth decay is easy to treat.

Early treatment and prevention 

Looking after your teeth is the most effective way of strengthening what’s left of your tooth enamel and preventing further deterioration. Good oral health and a balanced diet, combined with a high fluoride toothpaste, can stop the pain of sensitive teeth. 

Good oral hygiene 

Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly stops plaque building up. It’s also good practice to brush your teeth after you’ve eaten anything high in sugar or starch, like crisps or white bread. Looking after your teeth doesn’t stop there, regular trips to the dentist can help catch small problems early. The NHS recommends that adults see their dentist for a check-up every two years, and under 18s once a year.

Balanced diet

We know that foods high in sugar cause irreparable damage to your teeth, so it makes sense to eat less of the foods in this group. You should also try to cut down on acidic drinks like coffee, fizzy drinks, and alcohol. Instead opt for a balanced diet, with plenty of vegetables, whole grain foods, and calcium to repair your teeth.

Switching toothpaste

Fluoride is a mineral found in water that is proven to strengthen tooth enamel. Almost every brand of toothpaste contains fluoride in small amounts; for those with the early stages of tooth decay there is a high strength alternative available on prescription.  

High fluoride toothpaste

Colgate Duraphat Flouride Toothpaste available at Post My MedsColgate Duraphat 5000 contains four times more fluoride than a standard toothpaste. It contains 1.1% of the active ingredient sodium fluoride to remove plaque, prevent cavities, and strengthen tooth enamel

High fluoride toothpaste is a replacement for your regular toothpaste and should be used two to three times every day. Using duraphat 5000ppm fluoride toothpaste regularly will help relieve the symptoms of sensitive teeth triggered by sugary foods.

Colgate Duraphat 5000, is only available with a prescription, which we can arrange for you at Post My Meds. Buying online is quick and easy – simply choose your treatment, complete a short online consultation form, and once we’ve checked to make sure it is suitable for you, we will send out your order via first class post.

Protecting your teeth

If your teeth are sensitive to sugar, then you are probably suffering from worn tooth enamel or even the early stages of tooth decay. Protecting your teeth with at-home treatments is the first step to improving your symptoms.

If your teeth hurt persistently or you’re worried about the pain, then see your dentist. They can arrange for an x-ray to check the parts of your teeth that can’t be seen, and rule out other dental conditions, like gum disease or a cavity. 

In the meantime, good oral hygiene and a balanced diet are healthy practices that will pay off in the future not just for your oral health but your overall wellbeing. 

Although all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it should not be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please speak to your doctor.

Authored Aug 02, 2021 by Joseph Issac, MPharm
Reviewed Aug 02, 2021 by Prabjeet Saundh, MPharm