It might not be a stretch to say that every person has experienced the occasional tooth sensitivity at one point or another, whether it’s from fervently biting into your ice cream bar or using a few too many whitening strips before your next big event.  Whatever the cause, it’s not a pleasant feeling. Tooth sensitivity can happen at any age and can be prevented with consistent oral hygiene practices and occasional fluoride treatments. 

Children are susceptible to sensitivity for a handful of reasons; poor oral hygiene habits, high intake of sticky or sugary foods, cavities or, the changes associated with the development of their adult teeth. The tricky part of treating sensitive teeth in children is that the signs aren’t always obvious and their communication skills can be limited about what they are actually feeling. Sensitivity can sometimes be disguised as irritability, picky eating, or even the occasional flinch while eating or drinking certain foods.  

It is important to allow open communication with your child about any oral discomfort they might be feeling in order to catch the sensitivity early and find the right treatment plan.  It’s usually best not to overreact to a report of sensitivity but it should prompt symptom monitoring if your child does mention it.  Continued reports of sensitivity or tooth pain should heighten your senses and likely prompt a call to your trusted pediatric dentist. 

The causes of sensitive teeth 

Sensitive teeth might well be a toothache caused by cavities. When teeth enamel is worn down, acidic food and cold or hot foods can get past the protective enamel layer which can allow sensation in the nerve endings in the tooth.  

This worn down enamel can also be due to bruxism or teeth grinding.  

A cracked tooth is also possible, especially if your child is an athlete or very rambunctious at play. Sometimes, as baby teeth loosen they are pushed into a “high occlusion” or “high bite” position that can cause the normal action of eating to cause the remainder of the baby tooth to crack or fracture.   

Going to the dentist can fix that cavity, identify the damaged teeth in case of bruxism, and your dentist would have the technology to find even an hard to see hairline crack in case of a cracked tooth.  

All the above need immediate treatment before they get worse.  

Allergy flareups, ear infections and/or sinus pressure can also feel like tooth sensitivity. A call to see your pediatrician to see if it’s related to these things might be warranted. 

Tooth sensitivity can also be part of the hypersensitivity some children with special developmental 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. 

Prevention is the best treatment 

Before cavities form or once a cavity has been fixed, it may be appropriate to look into dental sealants for protection against future tooth problems By scheduling your child for regular dental checkups and tooth cleaning, you do your best as a parent to prevent dental health problems  

Lastly, one last protective measure against tooth damage or sensitivity comes from having appropriate oral protection in the form of a mouthguard during sports. Mouthguards can help protect the teeth of athletes and kids in contact sports and this can be especially effective for athletes that also grind their teeth.  

About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan

Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan has 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. We have the ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs as we have 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.

39400 Garfield Rd., Suite 200
Clinton Township, MI
Phone: 586-286-0700
Fax: 586-286-5932