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Should Your Kids Have Tooth Whitening Treatment

Some parents ask about giving their kids tooth whitening treatment. With the sheer number of teeth whitening products available on the market today, many parents wonder if their children should receive a whitening treatment on their teeth to enhance their look. While professional teeth whitening is a service offered by many dentists, there are some key facts to know first before considering if kids tooth whitening treatment is right for your child.

Why do teeth become stained or discolored?

As we age, the enamel of the teeth can become worn from usage over time. Underneath the outer layer of enamel lies darker colored tissue. Additionally, what we consume can also discolor or stain the teeth over time. This includes smoking and drinking tea, coffee, and red wine. Discoloration of the teeth can also happen as a side effect of medication.

Another interesting fact is that baby teeth are naturally whiter than adult teeth! This is because the inner layer of dentin (which is the darker yellow part of the tooth) is thicker in adult teeth.  Ambient light cannot travel through the thicker more yellow dentin of adult teeth as well and thus adult teeth appear darker on comparison with baby teeth. Many parents aren’t aware of this and then think that something is wrong with their child’s adult teeth when they come in. This can often lead to considering teeth whitening options for their children.

What is tooth whitening?

Whitening your teeth is a purely cosmetic procedure that has no health benefits. Removing stains or discoloration is a purely esthetic choice many people make in order to regain their bright, white smile.

Whitening can be achieved by using over the counter products such as whitening toothpaste or teeth whitening strips. It can also be achieved by visiting a dentist who can use a specialized treatment that bleaches the teeth or a product that removes stains.

Should kids have teeth whitening?

Kids shouldn’t have their teeth whitened until their adult teeth come in. Usually, the treatment is recommended for kids over the age of 16.

The first step should always be to consult your pediatric dentist to ensure the right treatment is selected. Additionally, an exam should always be performed to ensure there are no cavities present that could become worse due to a whitening procedure. Since cavities are holes in the teeth, a whitening agent can possibly cause pain if the cavity is not yet filled.

Additionally, people with sensitive teeth may want to avoid whitening since some of the bleach applications used can increase sensitivity.

Other issues to consider

Self-image and confidence are important to children and adults alike. A bright, white smile is desirable for most people and this is why teeth whitening products and treatments have become so popular. However, if your child is asking about whitening their teeth, it is important to talk to them about why they want the treatment done and how they feel about their smile.  Often, this discussion may allow parents to learn a bit more about how the child sees themselves and their self-image.

Additionally, it may open an opportunity for parents to discuss proper dental hygiene with their kids. Keeping a bright, white smile always starts with good brushing habits and a good diet.

Written by: Dr. T Jay Robinson, DMD

As a father of three children, Dr. T Jay understands the importance of compassion and patience when treating kids. With more than a decade of experience, he continues to look forward to seeing each of his young patients – and helping them grow into healthy adults.

Categories: Oral Hygiene

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