Helpful Pediatric Dentistry Tips!

Tooth Sensitivity in Kids: Causes & What to Do About It

by Dr. Steve Whittemore, D.D.S. | Published February 7, 2022

Why are my kid’s teeth so sensitive?

As a parent, you never want to see your child in pain of any kind. Tooth sensitivity is fairly common in kids as their teeth grow and change. However, certain pain could be pointing to more serious issues. It’s important to get to the bottom of what is causing the pain in order to find the right solution. Below are common causes of tooth sensitivity to look out for.

Untreated Cavities

Cavities are no fun for anyone, especially young children. If your child is complaining of sensitivity on one tooth or in a specific area—it could be a cavity. These small areas of tooth decay start at the enamel and can first appear as white spots that eventually darken if left untreated. As a cavity grows, it becomes more and more sensitive as the inner nerve is left exposed. 

The key to cavity prevention and treatment is to not only maintain good oral health habits, but to also see your childrens’ dentist for regular routine checkups. 

New Teeth 

Whether it’s your toddler developing baby teeth or your kindergartener after they’ve lost their first tooth, there can be a lot of pain associated with new teeth coming in. Sometimes it’s the pain of the tooth breaking the surface that causes sensitivity. Hot or cold foods and even air can make these new, extra sensitive chompers feel uncomfortable. 

Too Much Sugar

Although it’s okay in small doses, too much sugar and not enough brushing can lead to painful teeth for your little one. An excess amount of sugar leads to a breakdown of the enamel that protects your teeth which can leave teeth prone to sensitivity. Try to avoid sugary snacks like cookies or candy, and remember that common kids drinks can hide tons of sugar so be mindful of what your kids consume. 

Sinus Infection

Sometimes, teeth sensitivity has nothing to do with the mouth at all. Believe it or not, sinus infections and even allergies can cause tenderness on the roof of your mouth. Build-up or pressure from sinuses can affect your child’s nerves or gums, causing them to feel sore. If the pain is focused on the roof of their mouth and is present along with other common sinus symptoms like a stuffy nose or headache, contact your primary care provider for an evaluation. If you are unsure if it’s sinus related, give our office a call and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Cracked Tooth

Just like adults, some children grind or clench their teeth, either during the day or at night. This habit can be detrimental to teeth, sometimes causing small cracks or fractures. This can make chewing foods very difficult and painful. If your child has an issue with grinding, try these five tips to help them beat this habit.

Solutions for Pediatric Tooth Sensitivity

Although some tooth sensitivity is inevitable as your child grows, there are plenty of steps you can take to help alleviate the pain and protect their teeth. 

Switch to Products for Sensitive Teeth

If your child is complaining of mild sensitivity, try swapping out the products you are using. There are many types of sensitive-friendly products on the market for both kids and adults. When shopping, grab toothpaste that is made for sensitive teeth or try soft-bristle toothbrushes instead of hard or medium.


Using fluoride is one of the most powerful ways to prevent tooth decay and make tooth enamel stronger. Consider adding fluoride mouthwash or toothpaste to your child’s teeth cleaning routine. lt can help strengthen and protect teeth over time and may be a good option for your child to avoid sensitivity. Many pediatric dentists offer fluoride treatments that contain a higher concentration in the form of a foam, gel, or varnish. At Pediatric Dentistry of Central Iowa, we use a flavored varnish! Kids can pick from one of their favorite flavors to make the experience more enjoyable. Contact us today to learn more about how a fluoride treatment could help your child.

Dental Sealants

If your child has frequent cavities that are the root cause of tooth sensitivity, dental sealants may provide some much-needed relief. Sealants act as a barrier to cavity-prone areas and can help prevent a build-up of plaque and future cavities. This long-lasting solution can protect your child’s teeth for years to come. Learn more about the benefits and what to expect when asking for sealants. 

Improve Overall Oral Hygiene 

You can reduce sensitivity by making sure your child is regularly brushing, flossing, and keeping up on dental check-ups. Consistent oral hygiene habits like these go a long way in preventing tooth sensitivity in your child now and down the road. 

Schedule A Visit!

The next time your child complains of tooth sensitivity, don’t ignore it! Although it could be an easy fix like swapping toothpastes, you want to ensure there isn’t something more serious going on. Schedule an appointment with our team who will help pinpoint the potential issue and find a solution that works for you and your child. 

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