Why do my teeth hurt when eating sugar?

Why do my teeth hurt when eating sugar?

Do your teeth hurt when you eat sugar? Having teeth that are sensitive to sweets can be a real pain—literally. You may feel a tingling or aching sensation in your teeth. Or, perhaps, you experience sharp pain.

Regardless of how the tooth sensitivity manifests, it can create a lot of discomfort and stress. You may be wondering what’s causing your tooth sensitivity to sugar, and what to do about it. In this article, we’ll cover what foods, drinks, and habits to avoid to prevent tooth sensitivity to sugar. We’ll also suggest some healthy alternatives to satisfy your sweet tooth, without the pain.

Common causes of tooth sensitivity to sugar 

Enamel loss    

Enamel is the hard outer shell of the tooth. It protects the inner, more sensitive parts of your teeth. Even though enamel is the hardest substance in the body, that doesn’t mean it’s indestructible.

Over time, enamel can wear away. Eroded enamel is one of the main causes of tooth sensitivity to sugar and other sensations, such as hot and cold.

Although it’s natural to experience enamel erosion with age, there are other factors that may speed up enamel loss.

Sugary foods, carbonated drinks, and alcohol can all wear away enamel. Avoiding or limiting these foods and drinks will help ease your tooth sensitivity to sugar.

Some healthy foods, such as citrus fruits and vinegars, can cause enamel wear, so it’s important to eat these foods with care.


A cavity is a small hole in the tooth enamel. When sugary foods enter a cavity it can cause pain and discomfort.

Cavities are caused by the same things that contribute to enamel loss. Not surprisingly, sugar is a key player. After you eat, bacteria turn the sugars in food into harmful acids. These acids can wear away your enamel and create cavities.

Lots of people come to the dentist with one or two cavities. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to prevent cavities and the tooth sensitivity they cause. Later in this article we’ll share some easy prevention tips.

Receding gums

If your teeth hurt when you’re eating sugar it may be because of receding gums.

Gum recession is when your gums wear away, making your teeth appear longer. This is where the saying “long in the tooth” (which implies someone is getting older) comes from.

Although gums tend to recede with age, cigarette smoking and aggressive tooth brushing can also cause recession. Once the gums are worn away, the exposed root is more sensitive to sugar and other sensations.

Teeth whitening

Tooth whitener usually contains hydrogen peroxide to lighten stains. If your teeth are sensitive to peroxide, you may feel discomfort during and after teeth whitening.

It’s not uncommon for teeth to be sensitive to sugar and hot and cold foods after whitening. The discomfort should go away after a few days. If it doesn’t, it’s a good idea to check in with your dentist to find out if another issue is causing your tooth sensitivity.

How to prevent tooth pain when eating sugar

For people with a sweet tooth, sensitivity to sugar can be really frustrating. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent your teeth from hurting when you eat sugar.

Adopting a few easy habits can keep your teeth strong and pain-free. You’ll be able to have your cake and eat it too. Just be sure to balance out your sweet indulgences with the prevention strategies below.

Eat sugar less frequently

How frequently you eat sugar matters more than how much you eat—at least when it comes to the health of your teeth.

This is because sugar feeds the acid-producing bacteria in your mouth. Limiting sugary foods to mealtimes will reduce the acid wear on your teeth.

Be sure to also rinse your mouth with water after you eat. The water will wash away food debris, stimulate saliva production, and reduce the acidity in your mouth.

Brush gently

We all know that brushing our teeth thoroughly is important. However, brushing your teeth too aggressively can cause gum recession and tooth sensitivity.

Switch to a soft-bristle toothbrush and use gentle strokes. It’s also a good idea to avoid abrasive toothpastes, which have a gritty feel. Instead, consider using a desensitizing toothpaste that contains fluoride.

Cut back on acidic drinks

You may have noticed that your tooth sensitivity to sugar gets worse when you drink certain beverages. Acidic drinks, such as carbonated beverages, citrus drinks, and wine, can wear down enamel and increase tooth sensitivity.

Common acidic drinks include:

  • Coffee
  • Black tea
  • Soda
  • Alcohol
  • Juice

Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your favourite drinks completely. Simply drink them less frequently and be sure to rinse with water afterwards.

Use sugar substitutes

If your teeth hurt when eating sugar, reaching for sugar substitutes can help. Sugar substitutes are substances used to sweeten foods and drinks instead of sugar.

Aside from helping prevent tooth sensitivity, sugar substitutes are also low or no calorie—so, you can indulge without guilt. Not all sugar substitutes are created equally. We’ve listed some of the best options below.


Xylitol is a sugar substitute that occurs naturally in many fibrous fruits and vegetables. It’s a common ingredient in sugar-free gums and candies. Studies have shown that xylitol helps prevent tooth decay, which is one of the main causes of tooth sensitivity to sugar.


Stevia is a natural sweetener extracted from the plant species Stevia rebaudiana. Although it tastes sweet, it doesn’t contain the fermentable carbohydrates that feed acid-producing mouth bacteria. It’s a safe and healthy alternative if your teeth are sensitive to sugar.


Erythritol is a popular sugar alternative that’s made from corn. It has been shown to reduce plaque and prevent cavities. It’s a great option if you want to enjoy a sweet treat, without the risk of tooth pain.

Candy that’s good for your teeth

Finding sugar-free sweets that both you and your family love can be difficult. That’s why kidpreneur Alina Morse started Zollipops, a candy company that makes sweets that are actually good for your teeth.

Zollipop candies are sweetened with Erythritol, Xylitol and other smile-friendly ingredients. They’re also vegan and allergen-free, making them a great option for candy lovers who have food sensitivities.

Morse started Zollipops when she was just nine years old. The idea for the company came to her when she was worried about the effects that a regular old sucker could have on her teeth. She collaborated with a scientist and her own dentist to come up with the ingredients list for Zollipops.

Creating foods that are enjoyable and healthy should be the future of the food industry. However, no matter what you eat, be sure to take care of your teeth by brushing, flossing, and coming to the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups.

Treatment for tooth sensitivity to sugar 

The cause of your tooth sensitivity to sugar will determine the best treatment option. For example, if a cavity is the cause then getting it filled will ease the sensitivity. It’s best to come in for a visit with a dentist for advice on the best treatment options for your tooth sensitivity.

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