Kids can be pretty vocal about things that are bothering them. They might cry out when they eat cold or hot food. Additionally, they may feel sensitivity when they come in to air conditioning after a day outside in the summer or step outside in the winter from a heated environment. Cold treats in the summer (and hot food in winter) can also reveal sensitive teeth. Changes in temperature tend to cause fluids to move in the dentin (the tooth material immediately below enamel and making up the tooth roots) and this causes nerves that live in the dentin tubules to feel pain.
We do have to be careful with kids that are fearful of the dentist, however. While most kids will talk about things that are bothering them, kids that do not like going to the dentist may try to hide tooth sensitivity from their parents to avoid a trip to the dentist. This can lead to problems worsening and causing more involved work when they finally say something. We recommend parents regularly ask kids about their teeth and if they are having any problems to avoid this pretty common circumstance.
What causes sensitive teeth in kids?
Sensitive teeth can be from a toothache related to cavities. In this case, treating the sensitivity is as simple as going to the dentist to find and fix that cavity.
If your child is an athlete or very rambunctious at play time, or if he/she grinds teeth when asleep (bruxism), you can also suspect the toothache or sensitivity is due to worn down enamel or possibly a cracked tooth. Your dentist has the technology to find even a hairline crack which can be nearly invisible when looking at a tooth. It needs immediate treatment before it becomes something much worse.
Allergy flareups, ear infections and/or sinus pressure can also feel like tooth sensitivity. See your pediatrician to see if it’s related.
Tooth sensitivity can also be part of the hypersensitivity some children with special needs experience. Sensitivity to strong smells, tastes or touches is not uncommon. It’s a matter of discerning what triggers the reaction and doing our best as parents to minimize any discomfort or irritation in these circumstances.
What can you do to help?
Aside from going to the dentist to fix the root problem such as tooth decay and cracked or chipped tooth, kids who grind their teeth can use a mouthguard designed for sleep, to protect their teeth and jaws.
Mouthguards are also essential for sports to avoid tooth damage during highly competitive or high contact sports.
Your investment in regular visits to the dentist for cleanings, dental sealants and interceptive and preventive care go a long way in preventing tooth sensitivity before it ever starts. Excellent home care including regular brushing and flossing while fostering a healthy diet low in sugary foods and drinks should help limit the chance of developing cavities and toothaches, also.
Be sure to contact your trusted pediatric dentists at the first sign of tooth sensitivity.
About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options. We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.