Sensitive Teeth in Children
While adults are more likely to experience sensitive teeth than children are, kids can develop sensitivity due to several factors. Any sign of pain or sensitivity should be taken seriously to rule out causes that require professional dental treatment.
What Makes Teeth Sensitive?
The enamel on the outside of your teeth normally protects them from anything they come into contact with. A layer of cementum under the gums shields the tooth root, and underneath the cementum is a layer of dentin. Dentin isn’t as tough as enamel, and it contains tiny microscopic holes.
If the dentin doesn’t have a protective layer of cementum or enamel over it, it can lead to tooth sensitivity since temperature and physical sensations, like brushing and eating, can reach the nerves inside the tooth.
What Are the Possible Causes of Sensitive Teeth in Children?
Poor Oral Hygiene Habits
Infrequent and improper oral hygiene habits are a common cause of sensitive teeth. If your child brushes their teeth too hard, it can wear down the enamel and expose the more sensitive layers underneath, especially if they use a toothbrush with stiff bristles and brush in a back-and-forth motion instead of a circular one.
Cavities or Fillings
Tooth decay and cavities are common in children, and they can lead to pain and sensitivity. If the sensitivity is due to a cavity, it should subside once the decay is removed and the tooth is restored. Fillings themselves can lead to sensitivity in some children.
Cracks or Chips
Any tooth damage can lead to sensitivity. If your child has a tooth that is cracked, chipped, or split from a fall or other injury, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible.
New Teeth or Loose Baby Teeth
Some children complain of sensitivity or pain when a new tooth comes in or a baby tooth gets loose. Encourage your child to chew on the opposite side of any loose or newly erupting teeth to minimize these symptoms.
Sinus problems, including infections and allergies, can sometimes lead children to believe something is wrong with their teeth due to referred pain. If your child complains of tooth sensitivity right before, during, or after a cold or sinus infection, the sinus issues could be the culprit.
Some children have sensory processing issues that lead to tooth sensitivity. If everything else has been ruled out and your child has sensory processing disorder, autism, or any other condition that leads to different sensory experiences, consider changing your child’s toothbrush or toothpaste to see if that improves things.
What Can You Do to Help Your Child’s Sensitive Teeth?
Instruct your child in proper brushing and flossing techniques from an early age to help them develop good oral hygiene habits. Brushing and flossing thoroughly at least twice a day can prevent many dental problems, including sensitive teeth.
Opt for a toothbrush with soft bristles, and teach your child to apply firm but gentle pressure in slow, circular movements to avoid damaging the enamel.
Watch your child’s diet. Limit sugary foods and drinks, such as candy and soda, and keep foods high in carbohydrates from added sugar as an occasional treat rather than a dietary staple. Sugar can wear down the enamel and lead to sensitivity and cavities. Choose whole grains, fruits, and vegetables for your child’s snacks instead of high-sugar foods.
Your child’s dentist can offer further treatment options if necessary, such as fluoride treatments or sealants. Don’t use a desensitizing toothpaste on children under 12 without consulting with your child’s dentist first.
Kids Choice Dental/All About Kids Dental serves patients in Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, and Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child.