Teeth Whitening for Kids
Your child’s smile plays a significant role in how others perceive them. While we tend to think of kids as individuals who don’t care about appearances, the truth is that, just like us, imperfections in the teeth can lead to self-consciousness. If your child’s teeth are discolored, they may avoid smiling. This can lead them to be perceived as unfriendly. Discoloration may also put them at risk for being made fun of by their peers. At Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry, we recognize that when adults have discolored teeth, the simple solution is teeth whitening. However, what about for kids?
Can My Child’s Teeth Be Whitened?
The color of your child’s teeth can be just as concerning for them as the color of your teeth is for you. Both parents and children tend to worry when they notice that the child’s teeth are a different shade than the baby teeth were. Baby teeth are naturally whiter and brighter. A difference in color does not necessarily mean that your child’s teeth are unhealthy, or even stained. It is also common for teens who have worn braces to experience noticeable differences in color from the areas where the brackets sat and the rest of the tooth.
Teeth whitening, whether by an over the counter product or a professional treatment, is a common solution to dealing with discoloration for adults. However, the Academy of General Dentistry recommends against using whitening products for children under the age of 14. Even with this recommendation, many offices still will not provide professional whitening to children under the age of 16.
What’s the Risk Associated With Teeth Whitening?
So, what’s the reasoning behind waiting until at least 14 before allowing your child to have their teeth whitened? The main risk associated with whitening is the increased risk of sensitivity following the procedure. It may be possible for adults to experience sensitivity as well, but a child’s risk is much greater. This is because the pulp housed inside of the teeth is still developing. Pulp, which contains blood vessels as well as nerves, does not fully form until approximately the age of 14.
Another reason that teeth whitening is not recommended for patients under the age of 14 has to do with the fact that your child may have a mixture of both baby teeth as well as adult teeth. Because the adult teeth are naturally darker than the baby teeth, whitening the teeth before having all of their adult teeth can ultimately lead to a mouth full of two different shades.
How Can My Child Prevent or Treat Stains?
Even though it is not recommended for your child to undergo whitening before the age of at least 14, that does not mean that they should have to deal with the embarrassment of discoloration. There are a few things that can be done to treat stains on your child’s teeth, and even prevent them from occurring in the first place:
|Avoid soda. Not only is soda full of sugar, which provides food for the oral bacteria that can cause cavities, it can also stain teeth with regular consumption.
|Use a whitening toothpaste. Whitening toothpaste contains abrasives that help to scrub away surface stains. Some contain very mild bleaching agents. Even simply brushing twice a day with regular toothpaste can help to eliminate minor surface stains.
|Regular dental visits. During biannual cleanings, the scraping and polishing of their teeth help to eliminate surface stains. We can also see your child in between regularly scheduled visits for stain removal.
If your child is worried about the shade of their teeth, they may attempt to hide their smile from those around them. For more information on how to keep your child’s smile bright white and beautiful, contact Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry today at (503) 663-8141.