The American Association of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) does not recommend that parents whiten their children’s baby teeth. Moreover, the AAPD discourages teeth bleaching in children until all the adult teeth have fully erupted. Once the adult teeth have erupted, children should have their teeth whitened by a dentist rather than using an at-home kit or any treatment purchased online.
Why Can’t Children’s Baby Teeth Be Bleached?
The primary teeth (baby teeth) have thinner enamel and dentin. They also have a larger pulp. Because teeth whitening can cause increased sensitivity and pain in some patients, it is risky to bleach young children’s teeth. Moreover, because the primary teeth will ultimately be lost, the results would be short-lived.
If your child has a severely discolored tooth, ask your pediatric dentist about cosmetic bonding. The composite resin used for cosmetic bonding has no side effects, such as pain or demineralization.
Teeth Whitening For Teens: What to Know
Teens who have all of their adult teeth, and who have received approval from their dentist that teeth whitening is safe, can proceed with the treatment.
If your teen is insecure about the color of their teeth, teeth whitening is a non-invasive way to help them feel more confident about their smile. Teens who have recently completed orthodontic treatment with Invisalign or braces may even consider teeth whitening a wonderful gift.
Should Your Teen Have In-House Teeth Whitening or Use a Kit?
Professional grade teeth whitening kits and in-office teeth whitening use whitening gels that contain a higher concentration of peroxide than teeth whitening products available at your local supermarket or pharmacy. To that end, it’s smart to opt for in-office whitening for your child, as your pediatric dentist will ensure that the gums and lips are safely protected during the treatment. If your child uses a take-home kit, it's important to make sure that none of the whitening gel comes in contact with the gums, as it can result in irritation and burning.
Keeping Young Teeth Healthy
Despite what your child or teen may see on television, teeth are not naturally bright white. They are naturally off-white in color. The color of your child’s teeth is actually determined by the color of the dentin, which is beneath the tooth’s enamel. So, if your child has naturally darker dentin, the teeth will appear more yellowed or darker. This does not mean that less than perfectly white teeth aren’t healthy.
But, to avoid additional stains on your child’s teeth, follow these tips:
- Limit sugary snacks and beverages
- Limit foods and beverages that cause staining (soda, sugary sports drinks, dark juices)
- Ensure your child brushes their teeth for a full two minutes twice a day
- Ensure your child flosses daily
- See the dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and exam