May 18 2022

Sensitive Teeth in Children: Is it possible?

toddler eating a chocolate ice cream cone which might cause sensitive teeth

As the weather warms up, it’s common to treat your children with ice cream, snow cones, and other ice-cold refreshments. While it may be common to get a brain freeze after eating their favorite frozen treat, it is alarming if your child complains about sharp dental pain due to sensitive teeth.

Generally, hot, cold, sweet, and sour food and drink (and sometimes even cool air) can trigger tooth sensitivity. This can happen when your tooth’s outer layer thins out, or gums recede, exposing the underlying dentin and dental nerves. Ouch!

Although this is generally a problem for adults, children can also suffer from tooth sensitivity. Because up to 52% of Americans struggle with sensitive teeth, we’ve unpacked six reasons your child might have sensitive teeth.

1. Tooth Decay

If ignored, dental decay eventually exposes the underlying dental tissue and nerve. Thankfully, tooth decay is largely preventable by eating a balanced diet, practicing good oral hygiene, and regularly visiting your child’s dentist.

2. Over-Brushing

Ideally, your child should brush their teeth in gentle circles with a soft brush. However, their gums can begin to pull away from tooth roots if you brush too hard or don’t use a soft toothbrush. Over time, over-brushing can wear away their enamel and expose the underlying dentin and dental nerves.

3. Acidic Foods and Beverages

Does your child have an insatiable appetite for citrus, fruit juice, or other acid-rich treats? Overeating acidic foods and drinks can erode the surface of your child’s teeth. If your child isn’t ready to part with their tart favorites, cut the acid with a calcium-rich treat (such as milk or cheese) after eating.

4. Chronic Teeth Grinding

Sleep bruxism is the involuntary clenching and grinding of the teeth during sleep. Although prevalence numbers vary from study to study, you might be surprised that sleep bruxism may affect anywhere from 13 to 49% of children. Furthermore, you might be even more surprised to discover that some researchers have linked sleep bruxism with excessive screen time and sugar consumption.

Regardless, bruxism will eventually wear down the enamel of your children’s teeth if ignored. Thus, leading to sensitivity. The good news is that your pediatric dentist can help your child manage their sleep bruxism habits through a prescribed nightguard.

5. Cracked or Chipped Teeth

Kids constantly gain life lessons through experiences. Sometimes, life lessons can permanently damage their teeth. If your kid learned the hard way that biting into hard candies, excessively munching on ice, or using their teeth as tools can leave teeth cracked or chipped, they might be experiencing teeth sensitivity. After a tooth is deeply cracked or chipped, the nerve-rich pulp may become irritated when chewing. Also, a cracked tooth can fill up with germs, leading to more irritation, inflammation, and discomfort.

6. Silver Fillings

Occasionally, some children need dental fillings to protect and restore function to a tooth. Some pediatric dentists select silver fillings for baby teeth since silver is cost-effective and durable. However, silver fillings are sensitive to thermal fluctuations—making your child’s teeth more sensitive than usual.

Contact Your Local Pediatric Dentist If Your Child Has Sensitive Teeth

If your child is battling dental sensitivity, you don’t have to tackle this common oral health issue alone. At his pediatric dental practice in Overland Park, KS, Dr. Matt guides parents through dental care to restrengthen their children’s pearly whites. Schedule a children’s dentist appointment by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online.

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