Badge field

What to Use for Sensitive Teeth in Children

Published date field


When it's time to brush, children may firmly clamp their mouth shut and shake their heads. It could be a stubborn phase, or it could be that their teeth are sensitive and brushing causes them pain. In some cases, kids develop sensitive teeth for the same reasons adults do. But for some kids, the sensitivity might be connected to another condition, such as autism. Figuring out what to use for sensitive teeth means figuring out what the cause of the sensitivity is.

Getting to the Root of the Matter

Although people are more likely to have sensitive teeth between the ages of 25 and 30, it can be a problem in children too. Before you can figure out what to use for sensitive teeth and if it would help your child, you'll want to ascertain if the issue lies with your child or within the teeth themselves. If their dental habits haven't been stellar, tooth decay might have caused the enamel to wear down, causing a sensitive feeling when in contact with a toothbrush or cold food. Your child's teeth may have even been injured: Chipping a tooth when playing sports or when crunching down on a piece of hard candy can also cause sensitivity, as bacteria can irritate a tooth that has exposed dentine.

Choose a Toothpaste with Care

There are several sensitive toothpastes available for people who suffer from sensitive teeth, but these may not be fit for a child with a more ambiguous condition. It's important to consult a dentist before allowing your child to use a desensitising product, especially if they’reunder the age of 12. If it turns out that the smell or taste of the current toothpaste your child uses is causing them discomfort, switch to a mildly flavoured (or unflavoured) variety which might be your best option. Instead, use a clean washcloth or piece of gauze to gently wipe your child's teeth and gums until you can visit your dental professional for an appointment.

Fluoride to Strengthen Teeth

If your child's tooth sensitivity is related to cavities, in-office fluoride treatments can prove to be beneficial. Fluoride strengthens the teeth's enamel, lowering one's risk for extensive tooth decay. Usually, special fluoride treatments, such as the use of a fluoride gel or foam, are only needed if your child has a higher-than-average risk for tooth decay. Although you can purchase fluoride gel to use at home, it's only available with a prescription from your child's dentist. 

Encouraging Good Oral Care Habits

Along with in-office fluoride treatment, encouraging better oral care habits can help reduce sensitivity in your child's teeth, and help improve the feeling of brushing. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily will keep the teeth and gums clean, lowering the risk for cavities as well as periodontal disease. Using a toothbrush with soft bristles also reduces the chance that your child's teeth would feel irritation by brushing that’s too vigorous.

If tooth sensitivity continues to be a problem, or if you continue to have trouble getting your child to brush his or her teeth, a paediatric dentist can be a great ally. You can also use a clean washcloth or piece of gauze to gently wipe your child’s teeth and gums until you can visit your dental professional for an appointment.

Home Remedies for Sensitive Teeth in Children

If you suspect your child is suffering from tooth pain or sensitivity to cold, hot or sweet things, you’ll want to help with the pain as soon as possible! There are a few home remedies you can try which can be effective until you manage to take them to see a dentist.

  • Try limiting the amount of sugary food and drinks they eat as these foods can cause the sharp pain of sensitive teeth if the tooth enamel has already thinned or weakened.
  • Use a fluoride or desensitising toothpaste when brushing their teeth. A fluoride toothpaste can protect against tooth decay, while a toothpaste made to combat sensitivity will help to build a protective layer over the tooth and block the pain of sensitive teeth.
  • Getting your child to rinse their mouth with a saltwater solution may help to prevent them from developing sensitive teeth, it can also help with preventing tooth decay and helping their overall oral health.
  • Chewing on guava leaves or using a gel containing guava leaf extract can help with the pain of sensitive teeth and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Using an oral gel that contains cloves can also have the same effect. [kw1]

What Your Dentist Can Do for Sensitive Teeth in Children

Sensitive teeth in children can be difficult to diagnose yourself, so, if your child is still complaining of sore teeth, it’s always best to have them checked by a dentist. Your dentist will be able to work out the cause of the sensitivity and also know the treatments that will help to relieve the tooth pain. They may clean your child’s teeth, then use a fluoride treatment or paint on a dental sealant to help to protect their tooth enamel. This method can seal their baby teeth against sticky or sugary foods and keep them free from sensitivity and tooth decay. [kw2]


Read on to find the answers to some of the most popular questions relating to sensitive teeth.

Can sensitive teeth be a sinus problem?

A sinus infection (or sinusitis) can cause your teeth to hurt – pain in the upper back molars is a common symptom! Sinuses are empty spaces in your skull that are connected to the nasal cavity. If you have a sinus infection, the tissues in these spaces can become inflamed and you may feel pressure or pain in your teeth. [kw3]

Do permanent teeth hurt when coming in?

You’ll probably notice your child starts losing their baby teeth to make way for their permanent teeth around six or seven years old. During this time, they may experience some tooth pain and discomfort, so you should be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Swelling
  • Cheek biting
  • A slight increase in temperature

You can help your child with the discomfort of new teeth by giving them cool, soft foods to eat or drink, massaging their gums with a soft toothbrush, swishing their mouth with a saltwater rinse or giving them some children’s painkillers. *[kw4]

Why do my bottom teeth feel ticklish?

A tingling or ticklish feeling in your bottom teeth can be an unusual sensation, but it’s also a sign of teeth sensitivity! This can happen when your tooth enamel is damaged and is overly sensitive to hot, cold or sweet food and drinks. You may also notice it if you brush your teeth too hard. It’s always best to tell your dentist about this odd sensation as it can also be a sign of tooth decay or other dental problems. [kw5]

Do baby teeth have nerves?

Yes! Baby teeth have the same layers as adult teeth. Beneath the tooth enamel you’ll find dentine, the sensitive tooth pulp that contains the tooth’s nerves, then the root. [kw6] Baby teeth are prone to tooth decay just the same as adult teeth, so it’s important your little one follows a good oral care routine from an early age! 
Are sensitive teeth a symptom of anything?
Sensitive teeth can happen due to weakened or damaged tooth enamel; it can also be a sign of many other dental issues including:

  • Gum disease
  • Receding gums
  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Tooth decay
  • Teeth grinding
  • Overuse of teeth whitening products or mouthwash
  • Plaque buildup
  • A side effect of recent dental treatments or procedures

Always make an appointment with your dentist if you’re having any concerns with your teeth. A great oral hygiene routine combined with regular dental checkups and cleaning will help to to keep your teeth clean and your mouth healthy!

*Always consult a medical professional before taking any medication.








Want more tips and offers sent directly to your inbox?

Sign up now

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.