Sensitive Teeth in Children: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Sensitive teeth cause discomfort when teeth are in contact with something hot or cold. In this article, you'll learn what sensitive teeth are and how to avoid them.
Sensitive Teeth in Children: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Last update: 05 January, 2021

Sensitive teeth can be unpleasant for children, who sometimes say their teeth hurt, but find it hard to explain exactly how they feel. This is why, we’ll tell you what this acute pain is about and what their most common causes are. In addition, we’ll give you some tips to help your children deal with this unpleasant situation.

Sensitive teeth in children

When children have sensitive teeth, their teeth hurt if they’re in contact with cold, hot, sweet or sour food. And, when this occurs, children find it hard to explain what they’re feeling in their mouth.

Usually, children have sensitive teeth when their enamel has worn out, so it leaves their teeth unprotected. Another cause could be receding gums, which is less likely to happen in the case of children.

Sensitive Teeth in Children: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

When the enamel wears out or the teeth roots are exposed, the dentin (located underneath enamel) becomes unprotected. This tissue has microscopic tubules that connect the nerve endings of the teeth’s pulp to the exterior.

If an external factor, such as hot or cold sensations stimulate these tubules, nerve endings activate and answer with acute pain.

It’s quite common for children to have sensitive teeth, especially during the summer, because they drink colder beverages and eat colder meals. This discomfort can have an effect on a child’s diet. Sometimes, they refuse to eat because their teeth hurt. This is why it’s so important to find a solution to this problem.

What causes sensitive teeth in children?

There are many factor that cause sensitive teeth in children. Next, we’ll name some of them:

  • Poor oral hygiene: an incorrect and excessive oral hygiene, using strong movements can wear out enamel or damage gums.
  • Dental cavities: the presence of cavities in the mouth, makes their teeth sensitive, and they hurt when in touch with external stimuli.
  • Sour food: the excessive consumption of sour food and soft drinks, such as citrus fruits or sodas, may cause enamel erosion.
  • Pits and fissures: teeth may end up with small pits or fissures after a fall or a blow. You may not notice them at first sight, but they can cause sensitive teeth.
  • Bruxism: this is very frequent among children. When grinding their teeth, their surface wears out and dentin tubules are exposed.
  • Teeth eruption: the eruption of permanent teeth may cause sensitive teeth.
  • Dental fillings: some teeth fillings can cause sensitive teeth. In this case, teeth have lost dental tissue, and when cavities are deep, they hurt more.
  • Gingivitis: poor oral hygiene can cause inflamed gums, which hurt, bleed and may recede, exposing the teeth roots.
  • Sinusitis: the inflammation of the paranasal sinuses are related to sensitive teeth, especially in the case of the upper molars, because their roots are near the inflamed area.
  • Braces: when using braces, teeth move and they become sensitive.

What’s the solution?

If your children complain about feeling pain when having hot or cold meals and drinks, you should visit a pediatric dentist. Then, the specialist will identify the problem. However, there are certain things you can also do at home.

Make sure your children practice good oral hygiene. Teach them to brush their teeth softly, using the vertical and circular methods.

Sensitive Teeth in Children: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Using a toothbrush with soft bristles and changing it every 3 months may help. In addition, children should use toothpaste for kids, which is less abrasive.

Since food with too much sugar, acid food and sodas aren’t healthy for your children, try to avoid them. As a result, they may not suffer from sensitive teeth. The same happens in the case of food that is either too hot or too cold.

Try to explain to your children that they shouldn’t use their teeth to bite hard things, such as pencils, pens or toys. They shouldn’t open containers or packages with their teeth, either.

As mentioned before, the best solution is to ask the pediatric dentist for a professional opinion. If your children’s sensitive teeth are associated with bruxism, cavities or any other condition, visit the dentist right away.

How to deal with sensitive teeth in children

When children have sensitive teeth, they may refuse to eat because their teeth hurt. Therefore, you should visit the dentist, who’ll give you the best solution to this problem.

In any case, pay attention to the way they brush their teeth and avoid extreme temperatures in their meals. Finally, these tips may help your children overcome this unpleasant situation.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.