Is the taste of ice cream or a sip of a hot drink sometimes a painful experience for your child? Does tooth brushing or flossing make them wince occasionally? If so, your child may have sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the layer of a tooth underneath the enamel (called the dentin) or the layer covering the root (called cementum) is exposed along the gum line due to receding gums. The exposed areas respond to hot and cold, and sometimes to sweet and spicy foods, and trigger pain.

How can I manage my child’s tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity is not something your child should have to deal with, and in some instances can be painful. The best way to prevent tooth sensitivity is to firstly ensure your child has a good oral hygiene routine at home. This includes a fluoridated toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. A soft toothbrush will help prevent gum loss and will also avoid enamel wear. It is also best to avoid acidic and sweet drinks as this can also damage the outer layers of teeth.


1. Use toothpaste specifically made for sensitive teeth – It is important to ask a dentist before allowing a child under age 12 to use a desensitising product. You can try unflavored toothpaste or use a clean washcloth or piece of gauze to gently wipe your child’s sensitive teeth. Teens can try toothpaste such as Colgate Sensitive. Sensodyne ProNamel for Children is indicated for ages six and up, but ask a dentist before switching.

2. Use a mouthwash with fluoride – If cavities are causing your child’s tooth sensitivity, try a fluoride mouthwash as long as it is appropriate for your child’s age. You may also be able to purchase fluoride gel to use at home, but it will need to come from a dentist.

3. Make sure the toothbrush is soft – Children should not use medium or hard toothbrushes. Soft is effective for cleaning. Also, extra soft is preferred for younger children. Gentle care is best if your child has sensitive teeth.


  1. Poor brushing habits
    It’s important to establish proper brushing techniques from an early age, not only to prevent cavities but also to protect the gums and enamel. If your child brushes his/her teeth too hard, it could result in enamel and gum erosion, which makes their teeth more sensitive to hot and cold. To avoid this problem, teach your children how much pressure to apply as they brush their teeth with a soft toothbrush.
  1. Cavities
    If your child does not brush and floss his/her teeth often enough, then tooth decay begins to take effect, which will cause sensitivity and discomfort in your child’s teeth. To prevent this cause of tooth sensitivity, make sure your children brush their teeth at least twice a day for approximately two minutes.
  1. Sinuses
    Unfortunately, sinus infections can affect more than just the nose. If your child is prone to sinus problems, he/she may experience tooth sensitivity near the top of the mouth. This is due to the close proximity of the sinuses to the roof of the mouth. As sinus pressure builds, it can cause your child to feel pain as though the mouth is infected too. Your dentist should check to make sure this symptom isn’t an actual cavity or abscess.
  1. Teeth Grinding
    This is a severely bad habit that negatively affects your child’s dental health and is likely to cause tooth sensitivity. Excessive tooth grinding can cause hairline cracks in the teeth that cause mouth pain when your child bites down on something or chews food. Misaligned teeth can also contribute to these hairline cracks.
  1. Fillings
    More specifically, it is metal amalgam fillings that can cause unpleasant tooth sensitivity. This type of filling acts a shortcut that conducts heat faster than your child’s regular tooth enamel.  Since this type of filling is extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, it also causes teeth to expand and contract quickly, putting more pressure on the tooth nerve. This occurrence can also contribute to more hairline cracks in your child’s teeth.
  2. Losing Baby Teeth
    When your child begins losing more baby teeth and growing permanent ones, it won’t take much to make them feel sensitive and painful. The emergence of new teeth can be miserable on its own, but other factors such as hot and cold temperatures, food, and air can make painful contact as well.

Ignoring sensitive teeth can lead to other oral health problems, especially if the pain causes your child to brush poorly making them vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.

If your child is experiencing tooth sensitivity, it is important to treat the affected teeth before the discomfort becomes too unbearable. This could lead to malnourishment if the child stops eating foods that cause them pain. Therefore, it’s important to discuss treatment options with your dentist to ensure that your child’s oral health is in pain-free condition!

It’s always important to maintain good oral hygiene by:

Brushing gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush with a non-abrasive toothpaste for two minutes twice daily

• Schedule regular visits with your dental professional every 6 months.

Floss or an interdental cleaning device to clean between your teeth once a day.

• Choose fluoridated toothpaste, or water (most tap water contains fluoride!)

• Avoid or limit acidic foods and drinks in your diet.

If you are worried that you child is suffering with tooth sensitivity that is causing them pain while eating, drinking or brushing. Please get in contact with us and make an appointment to discuss this with the team. There are ways we can help and take some of the pain out of tooth sensitivity for your child. Contact us now on 03 9372 8960


Head to the Colgate website for further reading about tooth sensitivity in children

Some more great information about tooth sensitivity and what to do to help your child

Thanks to our wonderful Oral Health Therapist, Kay
She works at the Werribee clinic.
If you would like to talk to her or any of our amazing team, about this or any other questions you may have, please contact us on 03 9372 8960.