It’s the age of selfies, snapchat, Instagram and smartphone photos and teens are often self-conscious about how their teeth look. We’ve even had parents ask us if whitening is safe for their nine, ten, or twelve-year-old kids. We want to help answer some of the most frequent questions about teeth whitening.
Is it safe?
Usually. Dentists who offer teeth whitening treatments carefully screen all products on the market and select only the best and most effective concentrations of whitening gel that won’t damage the teeth or gums. Whitening is a very patient specific thing and should be guided by a dental health professional, even though you can buy whitening kits from many stores.
Teeth whitening may have negative side effects:
- Increased teeth sensitivity
- Dentin demineralization
- Variations in tooth color
Teeth whitening products are often misused by kids and teens. It’s best that you come to us so we can provide the treatment or recommendations instead. Don’t let your child DIY it!
Chemicals in over-the-counter whitening products can do a lot of harm.
- Damaging gum tissue if concentrations are too aggressive
- Injury to tooth pulp or nerves (concentration, time of exposure)
- Interfering with composite or plastic fillings (whitening treatments do not work on crowns, fillings, or veneers)
- Cause enamel pitting and/or disintegration
- Cause uneven whitening to the teeth (speckled, multi-color teeth) which can be very difficult to undo once it occurs
What age can my child have a teeth whitening treatment?
It depends on these factors:
- All the baby teeth are lost
- All of the adult teeth are in place and are fully erupted
- All orthodontic treatment is complete. (Whitening trays would have to be changed completely after braces have changed teeth placement)
- Teeth are aligned enough to provide even and congruent whitening across all surfaces
- Whitening gel application covers enough of the teeth to create a uniform smile color (some whitening treatments will only whiten the 6 front teeth and there can be a shocking disparity between the color of front and side teeth on smile)
Even if these factors are all in play, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) does not recommend teeth whitening treatments as safe for kids and teens under age 15. The research is still insufficient whether the treatment is really safe or not.
What can I do to keep my child’s teeth white?
Dental hygiene, regular visits to the dentist for cleaning, and a good diet free of teeth staining sodas and other dark beverages go a long way in keeping your child’s smile bright. Touch up whitening is an appropriate solution for people that are happy with their smile brightness but just want to keep it that way, also.
We have a variety of solutions for age-appropriate patients when it comes to whitening the teeth and would be happy to discuss these options with you at your next visit.
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.