Children’s Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity can happen to adults as well as children in the form of discomfort from hot or cold temperatures. Whether it is a hot bowl of soup or an ice cold drink, the result is a tingling, stinging, or painful feeling. In order to help address the sensitivity, it is important to determine the cause of the sensitivity in order to help decrease or stop it.
Teeth can become sensitive seemingly over night for a. few reasons. The first is when the enamel or hard outer shell of the tooth is worn down or damaged and the inner layer or dentin is exposed. Within the dentin, there are tubules or small pathways that lead directly to the nerve of the tooth. If the gums start to wear away or the enamel is damaged, the tubules allow for direct channels to the nerves. With less protection, the nerves can become agitated by tooth brushing, hot or cold temperatures, or even overly sugary foods. If the sensation comes on quickly when the triggering substance is present but goes away once the substance is removed, then your teeth are considered sensitive.
For children the most common reasons for tooth sensitivity are:
- Incoming permanent teeth - As baby teeth fall out and the permanent teeth are erupting, it is normal for major temperature changes to be uncomfortable in those areas of the mouth.
- Damage to the teeth - If the enamel exterior is damaged in any way and the inner dentin is close to the surface, even air can cause pain. Habits like teeth grinding, jaw clenching, traumatic accidents, and biting down on hard substances like food or toys can damage the enamel without leaving a visible trace.
- Brushing with the wrong technique - If the child is using a hard bristled toothbrush, a worn or frayed toothbrush or is pressing too hard with the toothbrush, the gum can recede or the enamel can wear down leaving the tooth more sensitive.
- Cavities and tooth decay - Decay and cavities occur when bacteria and plaque are not removed from an area of weakened enamel. The damaged spot on the tooth is leaving the nerve more exposed than the other healthier areas of the tooth.
- Issues with sinuses - As the sinus cavities are located above the mouth, the teeth on the top of the mouth are more likely to have problems when sinus pressure is more intense. Your child may have a sinus infection that once treated will leave their teeth feeling better.
- Fillings made of silver amalgam - The material used in these kinds of fillings is sensitive to temperature changes and can allow the tooth to expand and contract with the temperature change. As the tooth swells and reduces in size, the pressure on the nerve is greater resulting in pain and potentially minute cracks in the tooth.
Treating Tooth Sensitivity in Children
Be sure to talk to the dentist about your child’s discomfort and the best way to help your child strengthen their teeth. It may be as simple as working with them on better brushing or using a sensitive toothpaste. The dentist may need to replacing old fillings or address current cavities. Finally, the dentist may suggest a fluoride treatment to strengthen the teeth.