Is Tooth Whitening Safe for Kids?

Every parent is concerned with their child’s health, right down to the coloring of their teeth. Some parents may worry, as their child gets older, that their teeth will begin to yellow. This is not uncommon because young children naturally have whiter teeth, and in comparison, a slightly older child’s may begin to look dull or yellow. However, kids that consume a lot of sugary candy and soda are also susceptible to food stains on their teeth, which can give them a yellow appearance. But the question is: is tooth whitening safe for kids?

The Risks

No matter what age someone is, there are risks involved in tooth whitening and its effect on the teeth. In many tooth whitening strips, they use a concentration of hydrogen peroxide to give a bright, white smile, but the use of hydrogen peroxide on teeth can result in tooth sensitivity if used often or in high concentration.

For this reason, experts recommend that children wait until age 14 or later before they start using any form of tooth whitening to ensure that their tooth pulp has fully formed.

With young teeth,  high-concentration whitening approaches like whitening strips or green light treatments can result in tooth sensitivity and make teeth more prone to cavities and soreness. Because of this, we recommend waiting until age 17 or later to use whitening strips or green light treatments.

The position of The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is that over-the-counter tooth whitening products are too new and have not been studied enough to form a robust scientific consensus. There’s more research to do, so until better information emerges they caution against allowing young people to use products like whitening strips.

What to Keep in Mind

For children who insist on going ahead with some form of with tooth whitening, there are a few things to take into consideration. First of all, let the family dentist know what is going on as soon as possible and seek their opinion. Dentists and dental hygienists are a much more reliable source than most things you will find online.

It is best to wait to use any whitening products until after all of the child’s baby teeth have fallen out and every adult tooth is fully grown in and settled. Whitening a child’s teeth too early may create variations in the coloring and bleaching of the child’s teeth.

It is also best to wait until all orthodontic treatment has been completed. Braces and retainer are meant to move and shift the child’s teeth into the proper position so the alignment will be different after they’ve been taken off than before. Picture suntan lines, only on the teeth. Waiting until your child is done with braces will prevent any bleaching lines on your child’s teeth from appearing after orthodontic treatment.

Kids who use whitening strips need to be supervised. Without adult supervision, the strips can be left on too long or even swallowed by accident if the child is not paying close enough attention. This can be damaging to both the child’s teeth and their health respectively.

Stain Prevention

Young people who are not good candidates for tooth whitening still have options to prevent discoloration and staining. They can still use a whitening toothpaste to scrub away food and whiten their teeth while they clean them.

It is also a good idea to avoid food and drink that are most likely to result in staining like sugary sodas or even coffee. Prevention is the best weapon you have against tooth yellowing.

Whitening Options Near You

If you want to know more about whitening your teeth, you can reach our Friendly Dental of Worcester office at (508) 340-4611, our Unique Dental of Worcester office at (508) 556-6241, our Taunton Dental Center office at (508) 822-1281, and our Uxbridge Family Dental office at (508) 714-7046.

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