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Tooth Pain and Sweets

author image Sophie Bloom, M.S., L.Ac.
Sophie Bloom has been a professional writer since 2000, writing for nonprofits including the American Foundation for the Blind and The Adult Literacy Media Alliance. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in culture and media studies from Johns Hopkins University and her Master of Science in acupuncture from Tri-State College of Acupuncture in New York City.
Tooth Pain and Sweets
Woman feeling tooth in pain. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Mouth pain from eating sugary foods can be irritating and frustrating. Individuals may experience pain that lingers after eating or tooth sensitivity that intensifies when eating sugary foods. Individuals may need to make lifestyle changes and obtain professional guidance to reduce this kind of mouth pain.

Tooth Structure and Tooth Pain

Teeth are coated with hard enamel that protects the pulp, or dentin, from making direct contact with food. However, the enamel can wear down due to hard brushing, jaw clenching or tooth grinding or may become cracked through trauma, says the British Dental Health Foundation. When the dentin is exposed, the teeth feel more sensitive to various substances, including sugar. If the pain disappears after eating the sugary food, then the tooth can be repaired. However, if the pain lingers after eating the sugar and brushing the teeth, then the dentin has been impaired, requiring a larger-scale dental procedure. Alternatively, vigorous brushing can lead to receding gums, which expose the bulbs of the teeth, leading to increased tooth sensitivity.

Sugar and Cavities

All teeth contain plaque, which forms in response to deposits of food and drink. Plaque uses mouth bacteria to create acid, which destroys tooth enamel. The decaying enamel is referred to as a cavity, a region that spreads across the surface of the tooth toward its interior. Cavities typically occur due to consumption of sugary foods. Interestingly, the quantity or type of sugar, table sugar or fruit sugar, is of less concern than the duration of eating, according to Merck.com. The website notes that a candy bar eaten quickly is less damaging to the teeth than a soft drink that is sipped slowly. Snacking between meals, which often occurs without subsequent tooth brushing, can also contribute to developing tooth decay.

Reducing Sugar's Impact on Teeth

Brushing after meals and daily flossing can help control tooth decay. While rinsing the mouth can be helpful, tooth brushing is more effective. Within a day of forming, plaque is soft and can be easily removed, notes the website. However, daily brushing and flossing may not remove the mouth pain, at which point individuals should obtain professional guidance.

Preventing the Formation of Cavities

Fluoride treatments can strengthen the tooth enamel against the development of plaque. Teeth can also be painted with a sealant that can provide protection for an entire year, and in some cases, up to 10 years. In complicated cases of tooth decay, individuals may need to use prescription antibacterial rinses for several weeks, then daily fluoride rinses thereafter. Structural problems in the teeth such as gaps and cracks may be filled to prevent the spread of tooth decay to the dentin and to minimize tooth sensitivity.

Tooth Pain Red Flags

Tooth pain while eating sweet foods with corresponding changes in saliva flow, jaw or neck tenderness or swelling, or gum bleeding may be the sign of a larger problem and should be referred to a dental care professional. Individuals experiencing changes in tooth sensitivity without visible changes to the tooth surface should also seek professional care.

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