Sensitive teeth. If your child hasn’t experienced sensitive teeth, the words might almost seem like an oxymoron. Aren’t teeth some of the toughest parts of our body? Well, yes. They are. But here’s the thing: if the tough outer enamel gets worn down or damaged or if the protective gums are compromised, then the interior parts of the tooth are exposed, and the teeth might, in fact, become sensitive.

What can be done about your child’s sensitive teeth?

Depending on the exact cause, the treatment might differ, so it’s important to talk to your child’s dentist to discover the underlying source of the sensitivity.

That being said, here are some common causes and treatments for sensitive teeth:

Grinding or clenching teeth. You might not even be aware that your kid is doing this in their sleep, but teeth grinding wears down their enamel and can cause tooth sensitivity. Wearing a mouthguard at night can address this issue.

Poor teeth-brushing habits. Applying too much pressure when they brush or using a stiff-bristled toothbrush can both lead to sensitive teeth. Get them a soft-bristled brush for several months and see if you can tell a difference. You can also get them toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. You might want to experiment with different brands to see which kind works most effectively for your child.

Recent dental work. This might be a bit of a no-brainer, but if they recently had any kind of dental procedure or work done on their gums, their teeth might be sensitive during the healing process. Wait a couple of weeks, and if the sensitivity persists, then ask their dentist about it.

Gum disease or recession. Issues with your gums often affect your teeth as well. When the gums are infected or pull away from the teeth, the dentin or roots of the teeth become exposed, and sensitivities may develop. This will likely require professional attention.

Acidic foods or drinks. This may not be your favorite answer, but cutting back on acidic foods, sodas, and other sugary drinks that soften and erode their enamel might be important. To help repair and strengthen their enamel, make sure you’re using fluoridated toothpaste and/or mouthwash. You might also ask your dentist about whether fluoride treatments could help with their sensitive teeth.

Again, there are no one-size-fits-all answers and no quick fixes, but a conversation with your child’s dentist along with some of these suggestions might be able to offer them a bit of relief from sensitive teeth.