Has your child ever cried or complained about pain or discomfort whenever they consume foods or drinks that are very hot or cold? Little ones, unable to verbalize this, may suddenly hold their hand to their face or rub their mouth when they eat. They may be suffering from sensitive teeth or more often a sensitive tooth condition. Though it is unlikely for children to have the kind of tooth sensitivity, known as dentinal hypersensitivity, that is a result of gum recession and exposed roots, typically caused by excessive and improper tooth brushing, or by gum disease (periodontitis). These are generally conditions beginning in adolescence and progressing through adulthood. If you feel that your child’s vigorous brushing has worn away some of the tooth enamel, switch to a softer toothbrush and consult your pediatric dentist before using any of the desensitizing toothpastes, generally made for adult use. If your child’s teeth continue to be sensitive, your pediatric dentist may apply a fluoride gel to the affected teeth.
Park View's Point of View
At Park View Pediatric Dentistry, we believe that catching and addressing any oral health problems early is important, since it will get worse the longer it goes untreated. The first time your child complains of tooth sensitivity it may be something simple, like a piece of food stuck in between the teeth or gums. You may want to rinse the child's mouth with warm water to loosen any food particles that you cannot see. If you notice food stuck between the teeth, gently remove it with dental floss. If your child continues to have discomfort and complains about sensitivity, make an appointment with your pediatric dentist. As we are well aware, children are at risk for cavities, and that can be a major cause of tooth sensitivity. Your child could also have an oral infection or have a filling that is loose, which may result in additional decay. This could potentially lead to an infection. Children may also develop sensitivity after a tooth cracks or breaks. Cracked or broken teeth may be the result of biting on ice or hard candy, playground/sports injuries, using the teeth as a tool to loosen objects and caps, or teeth grinding.
At Park View Pediatric Dentistry, we treat all of the above conditions that may cause tooth sensitivity from filling cavities to bonding and repairing cracked or broken teeth. However, one of the areas that we pride ourselves on in our practice is oral health education. We not only include the prevention of cavities, but tooth safety as well. The goal is to nip any of the causes of tooth sensitivity in the bud, so your child never has to experience discomfort from an oral condition.
Prevention of Cavities
1. Teach your children proper bushing habits. Use a soft bristled toothbrush, both in the morning and before bed. See our past story on teaching and helping children to brush their teeth, and when to incorporate toothpaste.
2. Flossing is equally important. See our past story on flossing your child’s teeth.
3. Starting as early as the first birthday, you should schedule pediatric dental visits twice a year.
Prevention of Tooth Injuries
1. Always use a seat belt or age-appropriate child seat in the car.
2. Teach children playground safety.
3. Instruct children never to use the teeth as tools for opening bottle caps or packaging.
4. If they do have an occasional hard candy, impress upon them that it will last longer if they suck on it, rather than bite it. Always brush afterwards.
5. If your child plays sports, make sure that they get and use a properly fitted mouth guard at all times.
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