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How to Help a Child with Sensitive Teeth

Young girl holding her cheeks

Teeth sensitivity is not common in children until early adulthood, but it can still happen. So, if your child complains of sensitive teeth or you notice certain behavioral signs that your child’s teeth may be sensitive to cold and heat, here’s what you should know and when pediatric dental care is necessary.

What Causes Teeth Sensitivity in Children?

Potential Causes

New teeth When baby teeth are replaced with permanent ones, the eruption of the new tooth is likely to cause some pain and discomfort. Exposure to hot, cold, food, or air can cause sensitivity.

Damaged teeth — Chipped or broken teeth that have exposed dentin can cause sensitivity from bacteria. Excessive tooth grinding or clenching or a misaligned bite can produce hairline cracks in the teeth, thereby causing tooth sensitivity when chewing and eating.

Cavities — A common reason for a child’s sensitive teeth or tooth pain is the presence of a cavity. Tooth decay wears down the enamel, causing a sensitive feeling when brushing or eating cold food. Poor dental hygiene and sugary foods and beverages are among the leading causes of tooth decay in children.

Sinus issues or allergies — If your child suffers from sinus congestion, or has a history of allergies, tooth sensitivity may occur, particularly in their upper molars. You can try to pinpoint if the cause of the pain stems from the tooth itself by gently tapping on it, or consult with a pediatric dentist or pediatrician to find out if they’re related.

Fillings — Your child’s teeth may be sensitive to cold or heat if he or she has fillings from prior cavities. This could be due to the high thermal conductivity in meta cavities such as silver amalgam, because they’re placed too close to the nerve of the tooth, or if they just haven’t gotten used to their new filling yet.

Rigorous or hard brushing — If your child has sensitive teeth and gums, it could be a sign of poor dental care habits such as rigorous or hard brushing, which can gradually wear away tooth enamel. Some kids, particularly those with braces, often brush with a hard, “lower” back-and-forth motion, risking the integrity of the gum line. Teaching them proper brushing techniques early on, for instance, to brush with soft, circular motions will preserve teeth’ enamel and protect the nerve-rich dentin. Exposed dentin is what prompts this kind of sensitivity.

Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — One of the main symptoms of autism is extreme sensitivity to taste, touch, light, and sound.

How to Prevent Tooth Sensitivity

Prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease by encouraging your child to brush twice a day and floss once a day, using a toothbrush with soft bristles.

You may consider a special toothpaste to help your child with teeth sensitivity, but It’s important to ask a pediatric dentist for recommendations before buying desensitizing toothpaste, especially if your child is under 12 years old, and depending on his or her condition. If your child has extremely sensitive teeth, try using a clean washcloth or piece of gauze to gently clean their teeth and gums until you can see a pediatric dentist.

Also, consider a fluoride mouthwash so long as it is age-appropriate. Fluoride strengthens teeth enamel and protects against tooth decay. Ask a pediatric dentist about what fluoride treatments are best for your child.

Pediatric Care

Smiling boy showing teeth

If your child continues to experience teeth sensitivity and throbbing, especially resulting in fevers, seek expert advice. For quality pediatric and orthodontic dentistry in Reno, schedule an appointment with us at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental.