Has your child commented their teeth are sensitive or painful? If so it’s important to try to understand the type of discomfort they are experiencing. Sometimes the pain caused by sensitive teeth can be fleeting and may be linked to eating hot and cold foods, while other times it might be more persistent. There are several reasons for tooth sensitivity which include:

Having Sensitive Teeth after a Filling

It can take a while for teeth to settle down after any type of dental treatment so if your child has recently had a new filling then this could be the cause. Silver amalgam filling in particular can cause sensitive teeth as the metal filling expands and contracts slightly when it comes into contact with hot or cold foods. This type of sensitivity should settle down after a week or two but contact your dentist if it fails to subside. It could be the filling is slightly too high and needs adjusting.

Having Cracked or Broken Teeth

Cracked teeth or broken teeth can often feel quite sensitive. This is because the cracks or fractures in tooth enamel expose the dentin and this contains many tiny tubules that lead directly to the nerves of the tooth. Often teeth damaged in this way are more sensitive to cold. Mending the tooth should help resolve this issue, and it’s often a simple matter for a dentist to bond the tooth with colored composite fillings which covers up any small cracks or chips and restores the tooth to full function.

(see Cracked Teeth Treatment)

Having Sinus Problems

Sometimes sinus problems can produce a feeling of pressure in the jaw and this can be mistaken for sensitive teeth. One way to find out for sure is to gently tap the affected teeth and if this produces an unpleasant sensation then it is due to tooth sensitivity. Otherwise it might be worth taking a child to visit their pediatrician for treatment for sinus problems or possibly allergies.

Wearing Braces

Children with fixed braces often begin to brush their teeth slightly differently in an attempt to keep their teeth clean during treatment. This can mean they brush their teeth more aggressively, particularly around the gum line which can make the teeth feel more sensitive. There is also an increased tooth decay risk while wearing braces which would also produce a sensation of tooth sensitivity.

Sensitive Teeth after Whitening

Sometimes dentists will carry out tooth whitening in children but this is rare. Usually dentists want to wait until children are fully grown as otherwise they are much more likely to have sensitive teeth after whitening. The reason for this is due to the size of the dental pulp as it is much larger while children’s teeth are developing, increasing the risk of tooth sensitivity. For this reason most dentists would not whiten children’s teeth until they are at least in their mid-teens.

Treating Sensitive Teeth

If your child does have sensitive teeth then it’s best to check with us to make sure the problem isn’t being caused by any untreated dental problems such as small cracks or fractures in their teeth or untreated tooth decay (see: tooth decay treatment). Otherwise one popular sensitive teeth home remedy is to simply use toothpaste specially formulated for this problem. There are plenty of different brands available and we can advise you on the best type to use. These toothpastes work by blocking up the tubules in the dentin and they do need to be used for several weeks before your child will begin to feel the full effects. They must be used continuously for these effects to be maintained.