If your little one has been refusing certain foods, turning their nose up at a cold glass of water, and complaining their mouth hurts, the cause of your child’s discomfort and irritability could be a common oral health issue: sensitive teeth.
Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions you might have about your child’s sensitive teeth.
Why Does My Child Have Sensitive Teeth?
Enamel erosion is one main cause of tooth sensitivity in children. Teeth are covered with a hard substance called enamel. Under the enamel is another protective layer called dentin. Dentin directly covers the tooth’s root and features several small tubes or canals. The root is filled with a system of nerves. When enamel is eroded or damaged, the dentin isn’t properly protected.
Enamel erosion occurs for several reasons, including tooth decay, cavities, teeth grinding, or damage to the tooth caused by an accident, such as your child falling on the playground.
When your child loses their baby teeth, the pain associated with permanent teeth poking through the gumline is very common. Children with new permanent teeth may also experience tooth sensitivity because their brand-new teeth become irritated as they become accustomed to their new environment.
Children with allergies often complain of sore, sensitive teeth as well. This occurs because of the pressure swollen and irritated allergies place on the gums and teeth.
What Are the Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth in Children?
Children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, have trouble verbalizing what they are feeling, including their discomfort. Some children with sensitive teeth will resist brushing their teeth because doing so is uncomfortable. Consuming hot or cold foods and beverages can trigger sensitive teeth as well.
If a child’s tooth sensitivity is called by enamel erosion, the exposed dentin allows hot and cold food and drinks to reach the tooth’s root. This stimulates the nerves inside the roots that leads to pain and discomfort.
Watch your children’s reaction when they are exposed to hot and cold foods and beverages. For example, does your child turn away from a popsicle or not want to drink a cup of hot cocoa? When your child does consume something hot or cold, do they make a face or express they are in pain?
Talk to your dentist immediately, if you suspect your child has sensitive teeth.
How Will My Dentist Diagnose Sensitive Teeth?
Your dentist will perform an oral examination and ask you several questions about your child’s eating habits and oral hygiene habits. Tooth decay, cavities, or damage to the teeth are signs the issue is sensitive teeth. X-rays can help your dentist determine if the tooth decay and damage is superficial or if there is more damage beneath the enamel.
Tell your dentist about your child’s eating habits and oral hygiene routine. Be honest about how often you brush your child’s teeth, which products you use, and how your child reacts to having their teeth brushed. Provide a list of all the foods and beverages your child either won’t consume or causes a negative reaction, such as crying or wincing.
The more information you provide your dentist, the more accurate a diagnoses they can make.
How Will My Dentist Treat Sensitive Teeth?
Treatment for your child’s sensitive teeth is dependent upon the cause of the sensitivity. For example, if your child’s enamel is worn and their tooth sensitivity is caused by tooth decay, your dentist may recommend a dental sealant. The sealant helps protect the teeth from any further damage or irritation.
Take your child to the dentist as often as recommended. For example, your dentist may want to schedule visits every two to three months, rather than twice a year. More regular cleanings and monitoring can help prevent further decay. If only a single tooth is sensitive, and there is extensive decay, a root canal is often the best option to help your child find relief.
If the tooth sensitivity is because the newly erupted teeth are fragile and irritated, your dentist might recommend treating the symptoms at home.
What Can I Do at Home to Help My Child Find Relief?
Maintain a regular oral hygiene routine with your child, which includes brushing twice-a-day and flossing. Ask your dentist about fluoride treatments. Fluoride is a safe way to help strengthen your child’s teeth, which will in turn help reduce tooth sensitivity. Specialized toothpastes are available, but your dentist may not recommend one for children under a certain age, such as 12.
Talk to your dentist before making any changes to your child’s oral care routine, including using sensitive toothpaste. Avoid trigger foods and beverages, such as popsicles, ice cream, and sticky treats like taffy.
Tooth sensitivity is a problem that can occur in both children and adults. If you have any more questions, contact the professionals at Valley Oak Dental Group.