A mom helping her boy toddler to brush his teeth, while her young daughter brushes her own teeth by their side.

What to Use For Sensitive Teeth in Children

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Do you have a difficult time getting your child to brush their teeth? You may chalk it up to being strong-willed but it could be something else. Your child may have a teeth sensitivity issue. Here's what may be going on and what you can do.

Getting to the Root of the Matter

According to the Cleveland Clinic, people usually don’t have teeth sensitivity problems until they are in their late twenties. Here are some possible reasons and signs your young child has sensitive teeth:

  • Tooth decay can cause the enamel to wear down, causing a sensitive feeling when in contact with a toothbrush or cold food. 
  • Injury such as a chipped or cracked tooth can cause sensitivity.
  • If your child has Autism, he or she could be sensitive to the taste of toothpaste or the feeling of a toothbrush.

Choose a Toothpaste with Care

When looking for a toothpaste for your little one, especially if there seems to be a problem, here are some things to think about—flavor for one. If your child doesn’t want to brush, maybe it’s because they don’t like their toothpaste tastes. Look for one with a mild flavor and see if that makes a difference. Also, some kinds of toothpaste are made for sensitive teeth issues. They are intended for people 12 and older. Make sure to consult your dentist before allowing your child to use this type of toothpaste.

Fluoride to Strengthen Teeth

Fluoride strengthens the teeth’s enamel, which lowers the risk for tooth decay. If cavities are causing your child’s tooth sensitivity, and your dentist believes your child has a higher than average risk for tooth decay, he or she may recommend additional fluoride treatments. These may include prescription fluoride gel and foam.

Encouraging Good Oral Care Habits

Make sure your child is taking care of their teeth. Brushing and flossing (also known as interdental cleaning) once a day is a must. This will help keep teeth and gums healthy, lowering the risk for cavities, leading to teeth sensitivity. Purchase a toothbrush with soft bristles. This reduces the risk of irritating gums and teeth enamel by brushing teeth too vigorously.

Teeth sensitivity normally happens during young adulthood, but occasionally it can happen to children. It’s important to determine the underlying reason. These could include sensitivity to a toothpaste flavor, or tooth decay, or sensitivity due to autism. Whatever the reason, don’t let this keep your child form good oral health habits. If tooth sensitivity continues, consult your dental professional.


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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.

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