Everyone wants white teeth, including teenagers and preteens. In fact, young teens are asking for teeth whitening services more often than they used to. This is especially true for teens who have discoloration as the result of orthodontic applications, such as braces. But is it safe? While teeth whitening products are generally safe for children of all ages, they are not recommended for children and teens under the age of sixteen. Following are three reasons why most dentists say teeth whitening is not without risks in children and teenagers.
Most children don't lose all of their primary teeth until they are about 12 years of age. Some may even hold onto theirs for a little longer. Up until they shed all their baby teeth and grow adult teeth, your child will have a mix of primary and permanent teeth, which makes whitening cosmetically problematic. You see, children who undergo whitening before all of their permanent teeth are fully erupted may end up with mismatched teeth. Teeth that were whitened previously will always appear lighter and brighter than teeth that missed the initial treatment because they weren't developed yet. Since teeth are naturally yellowish in color, your child's latest additions will look discolored.
Even after they have grown in completely, permanent teeth have a bit of maturing to do before they are ready for teeth whitening services. Until approximately two years after all the baby teeth have fallen out, your child's tooth enamel on their permanent teeth isn't fully mature, meaning it is more absorbent and permeable than yours is. Your child also has an enlarged pulp. Both of these factors combined mean that your child is more likely to have sensitivity issues if they bleach their teeth at an early age.
Over-the-counter products are not as strong as in-office dental whitening treatments. However, they can still cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity if they are used too often or incorrectly. Since some teens have a tendency to do things in excess, it's usually not a good idea to let them take on the adult responsibility of whitening their own teeth at home.
If your teenager is begging you to have their teeth whitened and won't let up, make an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist will inspect your child's teeth and tell them if they are ready for teeth whitening or not. Leaving the decision in your dentist's hands also has an added benefit. If the answer is no, you don't have to be the bad guy. For more information, contact a professional like Willowdaile Family Dentistry.