Ice cream sweets dental pain

Treating yourself is a part of life. After a long day or when celebrating a holiday with family members, you might want to bite into a cookie or have a bowl of ice cream. If you have a family gathering and someone is baking a cake, you want to be able to have a piece without wincing in pain.

Patients often come into our office complaining that their teeth hurt when eating sweets. Tooth sensitivity impacts 30% of Canadians, and you may experience discomfort when eating cold or hot food or sweets.

Why sweets?

We’re going to explore why sweets are causing you discomfort and how we can treat the condition in our office.

Why Your Teeth Are Sensitive to Sweets

Sugar isn’t the best for your teeth because it will feed bacteria and lead to more plaque, especially if you’re not following the recommendations for brushing and flossing each day. Pain or sensitivity is a sign that something is wrong with your tooth - even if it looks fine.

We will conduct a complete exam and may take x-rays to learn more about why you’re experiencing sensitivity. However, we can confidently say that the cause is one of the following:

Tooth Enamel Loss

Tooth Enamel Loss

Tooth enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth that you see in the mirror. Your teeth have many different layers, and the role of these layers is to protect the tooth’s nerve and pulp. If your tooth enamel is lost, even just a small amount, it will weaken and cause you to become susceptible to:

  • Dental decay
  • Fracturing
  • Sensitivity and/or pain
  • Staining or discoloration

Enamel covers the interior of the tooth so that when you drink, eat or breathe, the inner layers of the tooth are not exposed. 

A few signs that you may be losing tooth enamel include:

  • Sensitivity
  • Tooth yellowing or turning gray
  • Tooth shape changes

Unfortunately, tooth enamel does not grow back. You’ll need to come into our office for treatment to help strengthen your tooth and protect it from any further damage that may occur.

Tooth Damage

If you tripped and fell, were injured while playing sports or were hit in the mouth somehow, you may have damaged your tooth. Acute trauma to the tooth can cause your tooth to break or fracture. Breaks are serious and need to be treated immediately.

Fractured teeth are also very serious, but they may also be less evident without an exam. A fracture can also worsen over time and cause a significant break in the tooth. In all of these cases, the tooth's enamel has been compromised and the tooth’s nerve may be exposed.

An exposed nerve is serious and will not get better on its own.

Even air hitting the nerve can cause significant discomfort. The pain is likely to intensify until the point that you have to come into our office and seek treatment. If you have had any form of acute damage to your tooth and are experiencing pain, you’ll find peace of mind by having a full exam conducted.


Small cavities can cause your teeth to become sensitive to sweets. If you have a sweet tooth and like to eat a lot of candy, there’s a good chance that you’ll have bacteria accumulate in your mouth that leads to plaque feeding on the sugar you’re consuming.

Over time, acid production increases thanks to the bacteria eating the sugar.

The acid eventually eats through the tooth’s enamel, leaving small pits behind. Small pits leave space for sugar to enter and cause sensitivity. Over time, the hole will grow and may even become infected if it’s not treated properly.

Cavities will require professional treatment, which we’ll discuss more in the coming sections.

Teeth Whitening Treatment

If we find that there’s nothing wrong with your teeth, the final culprit is teeth whitening. Whitening agents are strong and will penetrate your teeth to lift stains and whiten your smile. An unfortunate side effect of these treatments is tooth sensitivity.

Your teeth may be sensitive for a few days following treatment.

But there’s good news: the pain and discomfort will subside on its own without needing to schedule a visit with us. If you’re finding that your teeth are sensitive following whitening treatment, allow a few days to pass and the pain should go away. Persistent sensitivity will require you to come into our office for an exam.

How We Treat Tooth Sensitivity in Our Office

If you want to enjoy sweets again and not deal with your teeth hurting in the process, professional treatment can help. But first, you’ll need to schedule an appointment in our office so that we can perform a complete exam and better understand your current dental hygiene.

We may also need to take X-rays and use the images to see what’s happening inside of your teeth. For example, if you have a cavity, we can use the images to learn about the extent of the decay and what treatment options may work best for you.

Treatment options will depend on the underlying cause of the pain, which may include:


Dental Cavity

If your oral exam shows signs of cavities, we’ll then need to drill into the tooth to remove the decay. Our goal is to save the tooth, so we’ll diligently remove any of the decay and then need to fill the hole that is left behind.

Composite fillings work very well when filling a cavity and will match the color of your existing tooth. We can use numerous other materials for the filling, and the most common in Canada are dental amalgams. But composites are often preferred because you can smile without worrying about anyone noticing that you have a filling.

Composite fillings are made from glass ionomer materials. They’re strong and durable, and they’re affordable. Our team will match the color of your tooth to the best of our ability so that no one else can tell that you have a filling.

What to expect with dental fillings: it's normally a fast procedure that we perform daily. In 30 - 60 minutes, you’ll be done with the procedure and shouldn’t feel any discomfort after a day or two.

Enamel Loss

Tooth enamel is crucial to healthy, strong teeth. If the enamel begins to weaken or thin, we may be able to remineralize your teeth. Remineralization may or may not be possible, but when it is, it will involve:

  • Applying fluoride treatments to the tooth
  • Mineralizing the tooth with calcium and phosphorus

When your tooth is remineralized, it is stronger and can even resist plaque. You’ll still need to brush or floss, but plaque will be less of a concern.

However, if you have significant enamel loss, we’ll need to consider more advanced treatment options to protect your tooth from any further damage. Dental bonding is the go-to option for more significant enamel loss and will involve:

  • Applying a composite resin to the exterior of the tooth
  • Shaping and coloring the resin to match the tooth

Once applied to the tooth, we’ll cure the bonding using a special light. The curing process is quick and will harden the tooth. The bonding adds an extra layer of protection to the tooth that allows it to remain stronger and not be sensitive when eating sweets.

Tooth Damage

A damaged tooth is a serious condition that is not easy to rectify without advanced dental treatments. We’ll need to examine the tooth to learn if there’s an infection or if the root of the tooth is exposed.

Severe infections may require antibiotics and other measures to stop the infection.

If the tooth can still be saved, we can place a crown on it. The crown is a protective cover that will stop any further damage from taking place. Modern crowns are very realistic looking and can last a decade or longer without any issues. The crown will allow you to keep the remaining tooth in place and stop the pain or discomfort that you feel when eating certain foods.

If your sweet sensitivity is caused by more serious tooth decay, such as needing a root canal or retreatment of a root canal, a crown will also be used to cover the remaining tooth.

Failed root canal treatment


When severe tooth decay is to the point that the tooth cannot be saved, it will result in tooth extraction. It’s almost impossible for a person not to realize that their tooth has reached this level of decay and an extraction is necessary.

However, if an extraction is necessary, we’ll need to numb the area around the tooth before extracting it. Afterward, we can discuss additional measures, such as dentures or implants, to fill the hole left behind by the missing tooth.

Teeth can hurt for numerous reasons, and it’s never pleasant to feel discomfort when eating your favorite foods. If you feel discomfort, it’s important to seek professional help to ensure that there’s no serious form of decay or tooth damage that is causing you to be extra sensitive.

Schedule an appointment with our team to have a complete dental exam performed and put an end to tooth sensitivity once and for all.

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Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu - Dentist at Lighthouse Dental Centre and Blue Water Dental
Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu

With nearly two decades of experience, Dr. Sidhu enjoys helping his patients learn about dentistry. Knowledge is meant to be improved, challenged and shared.

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