We get asked about tooth whitening all the time, especially after orthodontic treatment is complete.  Everyone wants a great looking smile, especially today with so much of our lives being shared through social media.  The rise of social media and increased connection between us using images seems to have increased the interest our patient families have shown in tooth whitening.

Here are the basics about tooth color and how whitening works.  The conversation often starts around age 7 or 8 when the adult teeth begin to erupt and there are baby teeth and adult teeth next door to each other in our children’s mouths.  Baby or primary teeth are also whiter teeth when compared to adult teeth due to their structure.  This often prompts parents to ask if their child’s tooth color is too yellow. This is normal and natural. But if your kid is particularly conscious of how his/her teeth look, it’s good to know your options for makings those whites pearly, once they are all adult teeth.

So, what is actually in this “tooth bleach” or “whitening gel.”  Whitening solutions are always made of either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.

Carbamide peroxide gel

This is a gentle, whitening gel that penetrates the teeth more slowly, helping to keep the patient more comfortable by reducing sensitivity. Carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide to start work as a whitener.

Is hydrogen peroxide safe?

Absolutely.  Hydrogen peroxide is approved for use in wounds and as an oral “debriding” agent (essentially a mouthwash).  An oxygen molecule in hydrogen peroxide actually displaces a carbon bond in the dentin (tooth material just under the enamel) that changes the structure of the dentin to reflect light differently.  In some ways, you can think of whitening as oxygenating your teeth. It is as simple as that. 

However, whitening can cause sensitivity and a lot of that depends upon the concentration applied to the teeth and gums.

Teeth whitener caution

Teeth whiteners are not drugs, so they’re not regulated by the FDA. Talk to your kids if they’re ever considering teeth whitening. Because you can buy concentrations of whitening gel both at the dentist and at the store, people often think it is the same thing at both places.  But, which one is right for you or your child.  That takes some consideration and getting it wrong can cause lots of unnecessary tooth sensitivity.

Go to the dentist

Sometimes a thorough cleaning and polishing of the teeth are enough to remove stains and brighten your child’s teeth!

If whitening is appropriate, we can customize a plan for you or your child that suits their dental history, tooth shape and alignment, skin tone and general mouth sensitivity.

Dental hygiene is still the best

Regular brushing and flossing prevents plaque and stain buildup, giving your child a brighter, healthy smile. And remember, it’s normal for teeth to not be as white as paper!

About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates

Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options.  We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.

39400 Garfield Rd., Suite 200
Clinton Township, MI
Phone: 586-286-0700
Fax: 586-286-5932