Hawaii Pacific Dental Group, Inc.

Tooth Pain When Exposed to Sweets Can Signal Underlying Problems

By Dr. Rohinton J. Patel on May 17, 2018

A man undergoing a dental examHave you noticed a sharp twinge while chewing on a candy bar or other sweet morsel? Most people experience this sensation sooner or later, but is it a cause for concern? The best answer to that question is "perhaps."

Tooth pain when exposed to sweets can be a relatively minor issue that will eventually pass, but it can also be an indicator of an underlying problem that warrants further evaluation.

A dentist particularly qualified to evaluate and treat this condition is Dr. Rohinton J. Patel in East Honolulu, HI. He is a highly trained and experienced dentist at Hawaii Pacific Dental Group, Inc. If you have a dental problem, he can perform restorative dentistry treatment to improve the health of your mouth.

The Source of All Dental Pain

A tooth that is sensitive to sweets may also be sensitive to spicy and acidic foods, and to hot and cold food and drinks. It may even be sensitive to toothbrushing.

The dental pulp, or nerve, located deep inside the tooth, is unique in that the only way it can respond to a stimulus is with pain. Hence, it cannot distinguish whether the stimulus is pressure, hot, cold, or an irritating substance; it can only tell you that it hurts. Consequently, determining the source of tooth sensitivity can be a challenge.

Cause of Tooth Sensitivity

A tooth becomes sensitive when the microscopic nerve endings that exist on the surface of the tooth's secondary layer, the dentin, are exposed. These endings lead to the underlying dental pulp. There are several possible sources for dentin hypersensitivity. Dr. Patel will consider all possibilities before arriving at a diagnosis.

  • Cavities: Dental decay demineralizes the tooth's outer protective layer, the enamel, and exposes the underlying dentin, which can make the tooth sensitive.
  • Enamel erosion: Regular exposure to acidic foods or stomach acid can dissolve the outer enamel layer and expose the dentin.
  • Toothbrush abrasion: Brushing too vigorously with a hard-bristled brush and an abrasive toothpaste can cause gum recession and wear a groove into the side of the tooth at the gumline, causing sensitivity.
  • Excessive biting forces: Patients who have a habit of clenching or grinding their teeth can cause the teeth to microscopically bend, resulting in a groove at the gumline, called an abfraction lesion. This is much like the groove caused by toothbrush abrasion.
  • Defective fillings: A filling that is chipped, cracked, loose, or has decay around it can expose the underlying dentin and cause sensitivity.
  • Tooth chips and fractures: A tooth that has a chip or fracture that extends into the dentin and beyond can be sensitive.
  • Periodontally involved teeth: Gum disease can cause gum recession, which can expose sensitive areas of the tooth near the gumline.


The treatment for a sensitive tooth clearly depends on what is causing it. Dr. Patel is an expert diagnostician and he has an array of treatment options to address your specific needs.

He can address cavities and defective fillings with a new restoration, either a highly esthetic tooth-colored filling, inlay, or onlay; if you are clenching your teeth, he can fabricate a mouthguard that will protect your teeth and help you break the habit; he may elect to treat sensitive teeth with chips, fractures, or enamel erosion with a dental cap, or crown; and he can repair sensitive gumline grooves in the tooth with a bonding  procedure.

Whatever your situation calls for, Dr. Patel has the answer.

We Can Help

Let us know if you are bothered by a sensitive tooth or if you want to learn more about the many services Dr. Patel provides at Hawaii Pacific Dental Group, Inc. You can contact us online or give us a call at (808) 955-0008.

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