If you have a child with tooth sensitivity, you may wonder why it is happening. And what can you do about it? A tooth is “sensitive” when the discomfort is immediate, but quickly goes away after removal of the cause. There are several causes for tooth sensitivity in children and several ways you may be able to help.

Causes of tooth sensitivity in children

New teeth – If your child is losing baby teeth and growing permanent ones, this can feel sensitive and painful. Hot, cold, and air can make painful contact also.

Minor tooth damage – Chipping a tooth after a fall or crunching down on a hard candy can cause sensitivity. Bacteria can irritate a tooth with exposed dentin from a chip or crack. Nighttime tooth grinding can also cause hairline cracks in the teeth, causing sensitivity.

Cavities – Improper brushing does not usually cause tooth sensitivity in kids. Most likely, he or she has a cavity and will need treatment from a dentist. To prevent this cause of tooth sensitivity, remind your children to brush their teeth at least twice a day for approximately two minutes.

Sinus pain – If your child is prone to sinus problems, he or she may experience sensitivity on upper teeth. Sinus pressure can cause pain that feels like it is in the mouth.

Fillings – If your child has silver tooth fillings from past cavities, try to pinpoint the sensitivity to a filled tooth. You may need to ask the dentist to take a look.

Recommendations for your child’s tooth sensitivity

Make sure the toothbrush is soft – Gentle care is best if your child has tooth sensitivity. Children should not use medium or hard toothbrushes. Soft is effective for cleaning. Also, extra soft is preferred for younger children.

Use toothpaste specifically made for sensitive teeth – It is important to ask a dentist before allowing a child under age 12 to use a desensitizing product. You can try unflavored toothpaste or use a clean washcloth or piece of gauze to gently wipe your child’s teeth. Teens can use toothpaste products like Colgate Sensitive. Also, Sensodyne ProNamel for Children is indicated for ages six and up. Always ask a dentist before switching to a sensitivity product.

Use a mouthwash with fluoride – If cavities are causing your child’s tooth sensitivity, try a fluoride mouthwash as long as it is appropriate for your child’s age. You may also be able to purchase fluoride gel to use at home. It will need to come from a dentist or pharmacy with a prescription.

Proper tooth and gum care – Encouraging better oral care routines can help reduce the occurrence of tooth sensitivity for your child. It will also improve the feeling of brushing and help to develop good health habits.

If your child continues to experience tooth sensitivity, especially with fever or throbbing, call a dentist. For quality pediatric dental care in Raleigh, contact us at Capital City Pediatric Dentistry. We provide gentle, family-friendly care.