The pain may be caused by other things including exposed tooth roots, recent fillings by your dentist (typically the fillings for larger cavities), post tooth-bleaching symptoms, or even a cracked tooth.
Causes of Sensitive Teeth in Children
Sensitivity in children from tooth root exposure is common. Pediatric dentists see this when the teeth are erupting and pulling on the gum tissue of the adjacent tooth. We also see sensitivity from manipulation of the teeth from braces. Since the teeth are moving rather fast for alignment purposes, the gums haven’t adjusted to covering the root surfaces properly. Sensitivity from the reasons listed above are temporary.
The difference with adult tooth sensitivity
In adults, sensitive teeth can be triggered by tooth roots get exposed when they get periodontal disease – when the gums/bone shrink and expose tooth root structure. As the parent, if you have this issue, please contact your general dentist for an assessment for periodontal disease.
Commonly, we see tooth sensitivity after a filling is placed – especially when the dentist has to fix a really big cavity. You may have a discussion with your dentist regarding hot and cold sensitivity in the next 2-3 weeks after the filling is placed. Cold sensitivity that decreases over the next 2-3 weeks can be considered normal. Increasing cold sensitivity or pain to hot foods/liquids is not. The tooth may need further treatment which may even include a root canal and a crown. If you suspect that your child has increasing thermal sensitivity after a treatment appointment, please call you dentist for an evaluation.
Bleaching teeth has been well documented to cause tooth sensitivity. The amount of sensitivity depends on multiple factors, such as the intensity of the bleaching period(s), the individual, and the age of the teeth.
Teenagers have bigger nerve chambers in their teeth than older adults. As you age, the tooth nerve shrinks in size. This kind a sensitivity is temporary but it may linger anywhere between 1-4 weeks most commonly.
Cracked or Fractured Teeth
Other reasons for tooth sensitivity which cannot normally be detected on standard X-rays or exam is a hairline tooth fracture. This is actually called Cracked Tooth Syndrome and it can be very hard to identify at first. Your dentist may have to do additional tests to confirm if a tooth is cracked by a hairline fracture.
Cracks or fractures can happened due to trauma to the mouth, grinding and clenching in ones’ sleep, or from a structurally weak filling. Structurally weak fillings typically are just really big fillings placed in the tooth to fix large cavities. This is why pediatric dentists will sometimes recommend crowns over fillings to prevent Cracked Tooth Syndrome.
De-Sensitizing Toothpaste Helps Reduce Sensitivity
If there’s no fracture, cavity, or gum disease most dentists will recommend a de-sensitizing toothpaste to help the tooth. We typically recommend using Sensodyne tooth paste for 8 weeks. Relief from de-sensitizing toothpaste takes some time. Patients may not feel relief for up to 6 weeks. Our advice: Stick with it and stay consistent when using de-sensitizing toothpaste! In the event that the sensitivity is not relieved in 8 weeks, schedule a follow-up appointment with your dentist.
Contact Your Pediatric Dentist
If you have any concerns regarding tooth sensitivity please make an appointment to see your pediatric dentist for further evaluation. To have the doctors from Junior Smiles Children’s Dentistry® evaluate your child’s sensitivity, please call us at 303-455-3313.