Teeth Sensitive to Sugar: Why And What to Do About It

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Teeth sensitivity is a term that commonly describes the discomfort or pain when you eat or drink some beverages.

Although it can be mild and resolve without complications, sometimes it can cause severe pain and difficulty eating and drinking ordinarily.

When your teeth are sensitive to sugary foods, it usually implies a problem with the outer layers of your teeth.

Therefore, diagnosing and treating the root of the problem is the most efficient way to eliminate symptoms and stop further complications. In this article, we will discuss what causes sugar sensitivity, how to prevent it, and how to correct it.

What Causes Teeth Sensitivity to Sugar?

The Role of Tooth Enamel

Every tooth has three layers: one internal soft tissue called dental pulp and two hard exterior and mineralized layers called dentin and enamel. This dental enamel is the most rigid tissue in the human body and the first layer of protection for your teeth’s crown.

When the enamel gets damaged due to dental caries, erosion, or mechanical abrasion, it can expose the inner layer of your teeth, causing pain and discomfort.

The Impact of Acidic Foods and Drinks

There are multiple causes for teeth sensitivity. However, the most frequent reason for sensitivity to sugar is dentin exposure due to acidic foods and drinks and a wrong brushing technique and toothbrush.

On one side, acidic foods and drinks can wear down your enamel, especially if you consume them regularly without the appropriate oral hygiene.

Acidic Foods

On the other hand, using a hard bristle toothbrush with abrasive toothpaste and the incorrect technique can severely damage your enamel, causing considerable aches.

Other causes for teeth sensitivity to sugar can be bruxism, gastric reflux, and gum recession.

The Connection to Gum Recession

Although the dental enamel covers every tooth crown, your roots do not have this protection.

Your roots only have your gums and a thin layer to prevent sugary, cold, or warm foods from affecting your dentin, causing sensitivity. When your gums leave your roots exposed, it is called gum recession.

There are multiple causes for gum recession, but the main reasons are acidic foods and drinks, wrong brushing technique, and bruxism.

Identifying the Symptoms of Teeth Sensitivity to Sugar

Sharp, Sudden Tooth Pain

Teeth sensitivity to sugar symptoms can vary from mild discomfort to severe acute dental pain.

When your dentin or roots are exposed, sugary foods can enter the inner layer, causing a brief but intense pain.


Some patients describe it as a sharp, sudden, and localized pain that disappears when the stimuli are gone.

Initially, the symptoms can start as soft soreness when eating. But, in time, the discomfort can worsen to the point of preventing patients from eating and having healthy nutrition. Some patients might even need painkillers to ease the pain caused by everyday activities.

Eventually, if the discomfort is left untreated for too long, the pain can turn into pulp swelling. As a result, some patients may need a root canal or other complex treatments.

Discomfort When Eating Sweet Foods

Fortunately, these symptoms are often only present when eating or drinking sweet foods, a promising sign for a favorable recovery. Yet, continuous and increasing pain after eating or drinking acidic foods could indicate more complex issues that can require other dental treatments.

Sensitivity to Hot or Cold Temperatures

Sugary sensitivity is closely related to the sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures. These are equivalent stimuli that can cause similar symptoms with little variations. However, sensitivity to sugar can indicate more severe problems than simple cold discomfort.

Preventing and Managing Teeth Sensitivity to Sugar

Proper Oral Hygiene Practices

The easiest and most effective way to prevent teeth sensitivity is having a proper oral hygiene routine. Brushing your teeth with a medium or soft bristle toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, and the appropriate technique is crucial to maintaining your oral health.

Do not brush too heavily or use a hard bristle toothbrush. Also, wait at least 20 minutes after eating or drinking, and use dental floss daily.

Choosing the Right Toothpaste and Mouthwash

Another erosive agent that might be causing your sensitivity is abrasive toothpaste. These products can wear down the neck of your teeth more quickly than expected when combined with other factors. Therefore, avoid buying toothpaste with dense and thick particles labeled for whitening to prevent enamel damage.

Additionally, buy alcohol-free mouthwash with fluoride to increase enamel protection.

Dietary Changes to Reduce Sugar Intake

Reducing your sugar intake is another way to decrease the chances of having teeth sensitivity.


A high-sugar diet, especially a diet with refined sugar, can cause cavities, gum disease, and other oral diseases.

Moreover, sugar intake reduces your mouth’s pH levels, leaving your teeth exposed to erosion, abrasion, and demineralization.

When to Seek Professional Help for Teeth Sensitivity to Sugar

Any pain or discomfort in your oral cavity should be more than a valid reason to seek professional dental care. Look for the initial soreness and mild pain as a wake-up call for a dental check-up appointment.

In most cases, these problems are fixed effortlessly in the early stages. However, the more you delay the initial measures, the more complex and expensive the treatment gets.

Potential Treatments for Teeth Sensitivity

The treatment for teeth sensitivity depends on its diagnosis. Therefore, addressing the cause of the problem is the first step. Your dentist can proceed with the dental treatment once the primary source is reduced or eliminated.

The most frequent dental treatments for sensitivity are:

  • Topic fluoride applications for superficial enamel damage,
  • Night mouthguards for cases of bruxism,
  • Neck covering fillings for erosive and abrasive damage,
  • Composite fillings for caries, and
  • Periodontal surgery and coating for gum recessions.

Each of these treatments has its indications and contraindications. Therefore, you should always consult your dentist before any dental treatment.

Addressing Underlying Dental Issues

Some dental conditions can increase the chances of suffering from tooth sensitivity. Mineralization issues, some prescribed drugs, and other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can make your teeth more prone to tooth sensitivity.

Your dentist might need to address these conditions before you begin noticing the improvements in your sensitivity problems.


Teeth sensitivity is a frequent oral problem that can vary from mild to severe.

Although multiple causes may induce sensitivity to sugar, finding the main issue is essential to solving the discomfort and improving the symptoms can prevent tooth sensitivity by maintaining excellent oral health, avoiding abrasive methods, and treating underlying issues.

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