You may think of it as being an adult or senior problem, but kids can have sensitive teeth too! The stinging, tingling, and jabbing pains when having hot or cold food or drinks can range from a mild inconvenience to a significant drain on your little one’s quality of life. Sensitive teeth may also be a sign of a more serious problem, so it’s not something to ignore.
If your child is dealing with sensitive teeth, in addition to speaking with your dentist about it during regular checkups, there are also many home remedies that may be able to help. We created this helpful guide to help you learn more about the causes of tooth sensitivity, as well as get practical information about common home remedies.
Sensitive teeth can be different for each person. Some people describe it as a stinging, unpleasant tingling sensation when consuming hot and/or cold food and drinks. In other cases it can be sharp pains when brushing or if an object taps the teeth. The main characteristic of sensitive teeth is that the sensation usually goes away quickly, compared to a throbbing or persistent discomfort.
Tooth sensitivity is most often the result of exposure of dental nerves through microscopic holes in the teeth. This can happen as a result of naturally thin enamel, which is the protective surface of the teeth. Other causes can include gum disease, early tooth decay and cavities. For children, adult teeth coming in can also be a source of sensitive teeth.
While there is no way to completely cure sensitive teeth, especially if naturally thin enamel is the main cause, many people report relief after attempting certain home remedies. While the right combination of treatments is different for everyone, the following are some of the most commonly attempted:
Prevention is very important. Since sensitive teeth are caused by thin enamel, you should do everything you can to limit enamel from getting any thinner. Since sugary foods and drinks contribute to tooth decay by thinning the enamel, limiting their intake can also help with tooth sensitivity in your child.
From fluoride in water to toothpaste to rinse, fluoridation is associated with healthy enamel and can potentially help decrease sensitivity.
Desensitizing agents in these special toothpastes, including potassium and oxalates, help reduce porousness in the dentin to limit tooth sensitivity.
Saltwater rinsing reduces bacteria levels in the mouth, preventing tooth decay and improving oral hygiene. This is another step that may help reduce sensitivity through prevention.
A traditional practice of swishing oil in the mouth called oil pulling, particularly with sesame oil, may help with sensitive teeth especially if the cause is related to the gum disease gingivitis. Oil pulling is thought to remove bacteria.
Guava is believed to have natural anti-inflammatory pain relieving properties that can help with sensitive teeth. Preparations include topical gels containing guava leaf extract, or chewing the leaves directly.
Cloves are another natural pain reliever. The numbing property of clove oil or clove gel can help reduce tooth sensitivity if applied to the gums.
Always keep your pediatrician and dentist informed of any natural remedies you attempt for your child’s tooth sensitivity, particularly if he or she has any allergies or is taking any other medications.
As mentioned above, you should discuss tooth sensitivity with your dentist during regular checkups as part of early dental care. Practicing good oral hygiene, including rinsing, brushing, and flossing can help protect the enamel, gums, dentin, and nerves to limit sensitivity.
For severe tooth sensitivity, a thorough examination can determine the exact underlying cause. Your pediatric dentist can perform a visual inspection, perform certain tests, and take X-rays to find out if there is thin enamel, gum disease, tooth decay, a chipped tooth, or other cause of your little one’s sensitive teeth.
In some cases, your dentist may recommend treatments such as sealants and bonding if there is very thin enamel that is causing severe sensitivity.
If the cause is tooth decay, cavities, or gum disease, dental procedures such as fillings or periodontal treatments may be needed to address the underlying causes of your child’s tooth sensitivity.
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!