Why Does Sugar Make My Teeth Hurt?

Why Does Sugar Make My Teeth Hurt?

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♩ Sugar is supposed to be one of the best things
in life. But you might have bitten into something really
sweet only to have it betray you. Instead of sugary deliciousness, you got immediate,
sharp, eye-watering pain. Sure, eating lots of sugary food can cause
cavities that don’t feel great, but that wasn’t some sort of insta-cavity. What you experienced was a consequence of
dentin hypersensitivity — or having sensitive teeth as it’s known in the toothpaste aisle. Pain due to this condition is more commonly
caused by consuming hot or cold things, but it can also be caused by eating really sweet
stuff. But what makes sugar so special? To understand this, it helps to know a little
about tooth anatomy in general. Your teeth have three main layers. There’s an outer layer of hard enamel, an
inner layer of pulp, which contains blood vessels and nerves, and a layer of dentinin between. Dentin is pretty hard, but unlike enamel,
it’s porous. It contains microscopic, fluid-filled tubules
that run from the pulp to the underside of the enamel. Even though tooth enamel is the hardest substance
in your body, it can still be damaged, like if you grind your teeth, have cavities, or
drink lots of acidic sodas. If your enamel is worn away, your dentin and
its tubules can be exposed. And sometimes, the combination of sweet stuff
and exposed dentin equals pain. It’s because of your old friend from science
class: osmosis. Osmosis is the movement of something like
water across a selectively permeable barrier. It goes from the side where there’s less
stuff dissolved to the side with more stuff. Or, in official terms, from the side with
a lower concentration of solutes to one with a higher concentration. Osmosis likes things to be equal. Now, say you bite into something very sweet,
like a piece of leftover candy corn. That snack touching the outside of your exposed
dentin has highly concentrated solutes in the form of sugar molecules. And the dentin acts as the selectively permeable
barrier. The fluid in your dentin’s microtubules
rushes out of your tooth towards the sugar. And that flow stimulates the nerves in the
pulp of your tooth, causing shooting pain. Other solutes, like salts or even sugar substitutes,
are often better dissolved than sugar, and are in lower concentrations in food and drink, so they don’t cause as much fluid to rush through the dentin. That means they cause less nerve stimulation
and less pain. Really, though, you’re much more likely
to experience pain in response to cold or hot things which contract or expand the
fluid in those tubules than you are in response to sugar. When we talked to Dr. Kenneth Markowitz of
the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, he said sweet foods are actually a relatively
weak stimulus for tooth pain. Usually, they only trigger pain when the tooth’s
inner pulp and its nerves are already inflamed. That means your tooth was in trouble before
you bit into that candy corn — maybe because of a cavity or defective filling. So if your sweet tooth is causing you agony,
you should probably go see a dentist. And then, you can get back to eating all that
candy tear-free. Thanks for asking, and special thanks to Kenneth
Markowitz for his insight into all of this. If you want new episodes like this every day, just hit that subscribe button and ring the notification bell! ♩

100 thoughts on “Why Does Sugar Make My Teeth Hurt?”

  1. Why do we get that pain on muscles below our jaws? I get it when I eat sugary food or sugary alcoholic drinks. I might be in a low percentage here but I never got that answer and I got excited to this video because I thought it would answer that.

  2. For me it's very specific chocolate that'll do it, but literally everything else is just fine. Pretty much any of the very cheap chocolates hurt my teeth (in addition to make me feel fatigued). Better chocolate has no impact. I don't eat chocolate so much in general though since I don't really like most chocolate.

  3. If your teeth hurt from eating sugar, go see a dentist… There! I just saved you about 3 minutes from watching this video.

  4. My tooth hurts only when I eat Snickers. Any other chocolate (even with nuts and stuff) doesn't bother me, only this one.

  5. This is so strange. I literally just had a dentist appointment 3 days ago for this concern. I visited early this year, too, to ask if the dentist saw anything that could cause it, but he couldn't find anything both times. He even said my teeth looked better this time around, lol.

    I brush my teeth with a gifted sonicare brush and use a waterpick as often as I m at my sink, but this darn sweet sensitivity makes things a tad difficult.

  6. I don't have any problems with sugar but I struggle a lot with acidic foods like literally all fruit flavoured candy, soda, ketchup, apples, lemons, orange, pineapple. Somwtimes even one kind of canned soup. The worst are candies from Haribo. They don't even have to be sour flavoured to cause the pain after 2 candies.

  7. I developed sensitivity to sugar after I got my braces off and my gums stopped swelling from my teeth moving around. But my dentist gave me some prescription toothpaste with more fluoride to reharden the tooth previously covered by gums. Worked like a charm.

  8. When i drink Cola i always get a weird uncomfortable feeling on my teeth. I always wondered what it was. Its probably due to this aswell

  9. It happens when I eat chocolate but it's not a sharp horrific pain it's more like I kinda feel a cavity forming kind of sensation.

  10. That also happens when I eat some sugar free things like sugar free chocolate.
    I'm supposing that's from the acidity?

  11. I'm sorry this channel is complete science fiction and cannot be taken seriously anymore. You mean to tell me people EAT candy corn? LIES!

  12. tooth infection.

    DON'T let the dentist have at your teeth. they'll kill them so they'll never heal. I'd sue my dentist if karma didn't get him first.

  13. i dont normally get pain with sugar in it or for hot and cold things (i put sugar in my coffee and drink soda occasionally) nor is it triggered by hard candies, but if i take a bite of cake, a muffin, cookie, or solid chocolate im in immense pain. though i generally avoid sugary tasting things so its not much of a problem.

    it was cool what the reason for the pain was, thank you schishow for explaining it

  14. Okay, SciShow is reading my mind… This is the exact question I was going to Google this morning but couldn't remember!

  15. One tooth of mine reacts very briefly to extreme cold when I drink icy water. As I just had my checkup a few days ago and I passed with flying colors, my dentist says it is because of the large filling I've had in that tooth for a few years now. The pain never lingers, and I have no decay detected during the visit. That tooth had some minor trauma a few years ago, so that in part contributed to the problem. The pain rarely happens, but it does every now and then.

  16. More reason to quit the white powder of death. Sugar is poison, and there is nothing you really need in it that you can't get from healthier options.

  17. I've had this problem for years! I don't have much enamel left on most of my teeth due to lifelong bruxism. When I was 20 my teeth were at the level of wear usually seen in the elderly, so my dentist gave me a nightguard, but unfortunately it's too severe to really help at this point. It can get so bad my mouth will water painfully too, as my salivary glands sort of spasm in response to the tooth pain from sweet or sour foods. I've used Sensodyne every day for over a decade & that helps a lot with the sensitivity, but I'm probably getting dentures in a few years :/

  18. Ohh! I just experienced that pain for the first time eating pan de muerto covered with cajeta… still I could overcome the sudden pain and finished everything 😋

  19. In osmosis it’s the solvent (water) that moves from where it has a high concentration to where it has a low concentration. The solutes can’t pass the selectively permeable membrane thus the phrase “solutes suck.” Water moves to dilute the more concentrated solutes where water is less concentrated. Thus around 1:30 when you say osmosis moves from low concentration to high concentration you’ll probably confuse people because they don’t realize that the solutes don’t move only water. Thus water is moving down its concentration gradient (high to low concentration) but at the same time it’s moving to a high area of solutes (thus low to high concentration).

  20. I hate that I ground my teeth in my sleep when I was a teen, hurts to drink things too cold and Butterfingers for some reason.

  21. I actually went to the dentist about that exact problem and they couldn't find anything wrong with that tooth. At least now i know what I'm dealing with

  22. So what happens when it's ONLY sugar that causes you pain? Sweet things are unbearable to me, but I can drink a cup of hot, newly boiled tea and have no teeth pain…

  23. Woah, I had this before. My teeth used to have that shooting pain when I ate chocolate. Even those small bars of kitkat were enough. That's why I got addicted to dark chocolate because it didn't affect my teeth as much as milk or white chocolate did. I also get kinda affected by cold water (not hot water though)

    Haha I'm basically a sensodyne commercial. My teeth seriously did get better after it. Still don't like eating milk chocolate, but I can eat it without pain now

  24. Sugar is definitely not great for your insides, but it does have some pretty cool healing powers when it comes to external wounds! It absorbs moisture which helps prevent the growth of bacteria – there's records of people using this as far back as 1700 BC.

  25. That's weird; this happens to me occasionally, but my dentist has never found any cavities, so I'm pretty sure I don't have any exposed dentin.

  26. I eat a lot less candy then I used too and sometimes normal foods will make my teeth hurt but that could be because of my unwillingness to take care of my teeth lol

  27. I have this thing where when I bite into something for the first thing in a while weather it's salty or sweet, that whole side of my jaw lights up in tingly somewhat painful sensation then goes away after a couple of seconds. Then the other side too =D.

  28. I grind my teeth so bad at night that I regularly crack and break my back teeth so I often have to try and avoid too much sugar until I can get to the dentist to have it fixed. Its really annoying because my teeth are already incredibly sensitive as it is.

  29. I never had this problem until I had fillings done and I’m mad about it. I was worried I had a cracked tooth or something


  31. I get that sometimes with different sweet stuff, but it happens every time I eat a Bounty even though other stuff in sweeter. I hate it, because I used to love the taste…

  32. I do not understand nothing.
    I will watch it again tomorrow early in the morning. Listed in tomorrow's before coffee routine
    Like fly lady, Mari Kondo etc

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