For many kids and teens, how they look has a big impact on their self-esteem. So a child with discolored teeth may be looking to improve his or her smile by getting teeth whitening treatments. As a parent, here's what you need to know about the safety of teeth whitening for kids and teens to help you determine if this is something you want your kid to partake in.
About Teeth Whitening Treatments
There are many different ways to whiten teeth, and some treatments produce better results than others. To get the best results, though, having teeth whitened by a dentist using an in-office treatment is generally the optimum choice. Typically a dentist can obtain dramatic results with one 30 to 60 minute treatment.
To achieve these results, they use a strong bleaching agent such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Depending on how stained the teeth are, multiple treatments may be required to obtain the desired results. If the child takes good care of his or her teeth and avoids certain tooth-staining foods, the results can last up to a year or more.
Dental Health Concerns
There are a couple of different concerns when it comes to kids and teens getting teeth whitening. The primary one is that the chemical solution dentist's use can irritate gum tissues and damage them. This can lead to anything from pain and inflammation to gum recession.
The peroxide solution has been known to cause tooth sensitivity. Though most of the time this is a temporary effect that dissipates a day or two after treatment, occasionally permanent tooth damage can occur that results in a lifetime of sensitivity issues. Additionally, the enamel in primary teeth is not as strong or solid as secondary adult teeth. This may allow the chemical solution to penetrate more deeply to the pulp, increasing sensitivity.
Most dentists recommend waiting until kids have all of their permanent teeth before letting them get whitening treatments. This usually occurs around age 12 to 13. Always go to a reputable dentist with experience performing teeth whitening procedures, and opt for whitening trays. The trays reduce the risk of the chemical getting on the gums and soft tissues of the mouth, as well as prevent the child from accidentally swallowing the chemicals.
If you're uncomfortable with letting your child or teen get in-office treatments, as mentioned previously, there are other products that can help lighten stained teeth such as toothpastes and strips. Consult with a professional family dentist, like those at Family Dentist Southgate Dental Centre, for recommendations on the best option for your child.