Children’s Tooth Sensitivity

Unfortunately, adults are not the only ones who can experience tooth sensitivity. This can also occur in children. Tooth sensitivity can include sensations such as stinging, tingling, or painful sensation after consuming hot or cold food and drinks, or discomfort after teeth brushing. In order to resolve tooth sensitivity in children, it is important to first determine and treat the cause.

Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity occurs when there is exposure of the tooth’s dentin. The dentin is a porous tissue located under the tooth enamel. Microscopic channels called tubules are located in the dentin. These tubules are direct pathways to the nerve. When there is exposure to these tubules from enamel loss or when the gum tissue recedes, the nerves are easily triggered. Triggers can include routine activities such as brushing the teeth, hot or cold things, and sometimes sugary treats. Tooth sensitivity is defines as immediate discomfort which subsides shortly after the triggering action.

Tooth Sensitivity Causes

Below are some of the most common causes for tooth sensitivity in children.

  • Permanent Teeth Erupting: When a child begins to lose their primary or baby teeth, the secondary or permanent teeth begin to erupt. These new teeth can be quite sensitive immediately following eruption.
  • Tooth Damage: When a tooth is chipped or cracked, it can expose the dentin can result in sensitivity. It is common for chips and cracks to occur from trauma, biting down or chewing on hard foods, and grinding the teeth which commonly takes place at night. This condition is called bruxism.
  • Incorrect Brushing Techniques: Brushing the teeth too hard can cause erosion of the enamel and gums. This erosion can result in teeth which are more sensitive to hot and cold.
  • Decay and Cavities: A common cause for tooth sensitivity and discomfort is tooth decay. To treat decay and prevent further damage, the issue must be treated promptly.
  • Sinus Issues: When a child has sinus issues, it can cause increased tooth sensitivity at the top of the mouth. Building sinus pressure can cause pain similar to an infected teeth.
  • Silver Fillings: In some cases, silver tooth fillings can cause tooth sensitivity. Silver fillings are quite sensitive to temperature changes. These fillings can also cause the teeth to quickly expand and contract.

This can put increased pressure on the tooth’s nerve and may result in hairline cracks, resulting in tooth sensitivity.


The following are some common solutions used to treat tooth sensitivity in children.

Good Oral Hygiene

Tooth sensitivity can be reduced through good oral hygiene practices. This includes brushing the teeth at least twice each day and daily flossing. Patients should use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle pressure when brushing. Children should also visit the dentist regularly for an examination and professional cleaning.

Sensitive Toothpaste

Follow up with your dentist to determine if your child could benefit from using a toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth.

Restorative Treatments: When a child’s teeth are damaged, it can increase sensitivity. Damage can include things such as cracks, chips, or cavities. When this occurs, the child may benefit from restorative dentistry treatments such as a dental filling or crown. Silver fillings which are causing sensitivity can be replaced with a composite resin filling.


When cavities or decay is the culprit for a child’s tooth sensitivity, the dentist may suggest an in-office fluoride treatment. Fluoride helps to strengthen the tooth’s enamel, and reduce the risks of tooth decay.

Children's Dental Emergencies