Is Professional Whitening Safe for Your Kid’s Teeth?
Is Teeth Whitening Safe for Kids?
As we get older, our teeth start to yellow. And though tooth discoloration isn’t usually noticeable until adulthood, it can affect kids too. Excessive consumption of dark-colored soda and sugary candy is one of the most common contributors to tooth discoloration, but family genetics can also play a role. While adults may elect to receive professional whitening as a solution, this isn’t necessarily the best option for kids.
Though children can get their teeth whitened, it is generally not recommended until they are much older. Even then, teeth whitening for kids is safe only if they meet the following criteria:
- All of your child’s permanent teeth have come in through the gums.
- All orthodontic treatment is completed with satisfactory results.
If your child elects to get their teeth whitened, you must understand the risks. One of the most significant risks is that whitening teeth too soon can lead to sensitivity that may never fully go away. For example, many whitening strips available at your local drugstore have a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide, which can lead to tooth-related side effects. Further, we suggest that parents wait for more studies regarding the risks of tooth whitening products on children.
What are the risks associated with teeth whitening for kids?
Though teeth whitening for kids will indeed provide your child a brighter, whiter smile, the associated risks might not be worth it until your child is much older. Whitening their teeth at any age may cause the following:
As already mentioned, the most common risk associated with teeth whitening for kids is tooth sensitivity. One of the best defenses against sensitive teeth is proper oral hygiene—brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing daily, and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthwash. Lessening the amount of acidic foods and beverages that your child consumes also helps as these items remove small amounts of tooth enamel over time.
The majority of patients who undergo whitening or bleaching experience some form of irritation due to exposure to hydrogen peroxide. Gingival irritation involves the irritation, redness, or inflammation of the gingiva, or gum tissue.
How To Prevent Discoloration of Kids’ Teeth
Since whitening children’s teeth is not recommended, let’s look at what common causes of stain and how to prevent discoloration in the first place. The truth is that there are many potential causes of teeth discoloration in young kids:
- Tooth decay
- Nerve damage
- Poor oral hygiene routine
- Food and beverage stains
- Iron supplements
- Decalcification from braces
- Excessive fluoride
- Tetracycline (used by the mother while pregnant or breastfeeding)
- Medical conditions
If any of these causes applies to your child, you can still take steps to help prevent further discoloration.
Limit the amount of stain-causing foods and beverages.
We know that you can’t prevent kids from consuming certain foods altogether. However, you can limit their exposure to certain known culprits of stain, including soda, coffee, and dark-colored berries. You can also ensure that your kids follow a proper oral care routine after meals. And plenty of water intake throughout the day can also help deter those teeth-coloring contents.
Protect your children from dental injuries to the best of your ability.
Accidents do happen, but dental trauma can lead to tooth discoloration. This is because the layer under the tooth enamel, known as dentin, is usually yellow. And in some cases, injury can lead to elevated production of dentin, which causes your kid’s teeth to appear more yellow. Help protect your child’s teeth by making sure they wear a mouth guard every time they play sports.
Talk to Pediatric Dental Specialists about how to keep your kid’s teeth white naturally.
If your child is experiencing tooth discoloration and you are wondering about their whitening options, it’s time for a consultation with Pediatric Dental Specialists. You can either request an appointment using our convenient online form or give our Omaha, Nebraska, office a call. Together we can determine an approach to mitigate further tooth discoloration in your child.
We look forward to hearing from you.