My teeth hurt when I eat

Regular visits to the dentist will keep teeth healthy. / Net photo

Dear Doctor,

Why do my teeth hurt when I eat ‘hard’ food, like tough meat, or cassava? I used to visit the dentist a lot as a child but I haven’t been there in while. I do not get any actual toothaches, though. I feel like my teeth aren’t strong enough. How can I change this?


Dear Lina,

The most common cause for hurting of teeth after eating something hard is erosion of the dental enamel. Most commonly, it occurs due to poor oral hygiene. If the teeth are not cleaned regularly or properly, food particles tend to stick around the teeth and gums. These form plaques over which bacteria tends to grow and multiply. These microbes release acid which causes dental enamel erosion.  It also causes chronic and or recurrent teeth and gum infections. Sugary foods like chocolates, cakes, candies and even sugary drinks like sweet sodas are the main culprits.

Malformed teeth are also prone to develop such infections as they are difficult to clean very well. It also occurs due to use of old tooth brushes whose bristles are worn out. These brushes are not capable of cleaning well. Tooth brushes with hard bristles tend to damage the gum lining, paving way for germs to enter and grow.

Due to loss of tooth enamel, recurrent tooth and gum infection and inflammation, the affected tooth/teeth, gradually become weak. One is not able to chew hard objects as before and can perceive the reduction in force of teeth. Toothache will come with acute and or severe inflammation or if the nerves on the gums are affected. Gradually, the affected tooth may weaken and fall off.

The only way to change this is by improving the hygiene of oral cavity. Brush the teeth, ideally after every meal. If it seems difficult, at least twice every day, in the morning and once before sleeping. The tooth brush should be with firm, soft bristles. After any meal, the mouth should be at least rinsed with copious amount of clean water. If possible, antiseptic mouth wash can be used. Once in a while, one can get teeth cleaned by a professional dental technician.

One should avoid taking very sugary foods and drinks. Balanced diet containing enough calcium, vitamins C, D, and B complex, is important, as these nutrients are necessary for good dental health.