The Dentist From a Child' Point of View

Does Your Child Want To Whiten His Or Her Teeth? Find Out Why It's Important To Consult A Dentist First

It has become increasingly common for kids and teens to want to whiten their smiles, whether they are being teased at school due to deeply-stained teeth or want to emulate the pearly-white smiles they see in the movies. However, teeth whitening for kids presents special challenges due to differences in enamel development and the tendency for children to overuse at-home teeth whitening products. It's important to consult with a dentist to obtain a professional recommendation and explore all the possible solutions to your child's desire for whiter teeth.

The Problem With Teeth Whitening For Young Children

When your child loses his or her primary teeth (often referred to as "baby teeth") and the adult teeth come in, it takes around two years for the adult teeth to grow their full layer of enamel. What this mean is that your child's teeth that have recently came in have greater enamel permeability (the ability for substances to pass through the outer layer of the tooth and enter into the inner layers) than adult teeth.

This means that the peroxide used in teeth whitening products are able to penetrate deeper than intended into your child's teeth. The peroxide solution can damage the pulp of the tooth; when this happens, it can cause temporary tooth sensitivity that can be very painful. While this is rare in adults who undergo teeth whitening, children are much more susceptible to this side effect of whitening due to the increased permeability.

At-Home Whitening Kids Are Especially Unsuitable For Kids

The way that at-home teeth whitening solutions are marketed often overstates the results that you will receive when you use them. While at-home whitening kits do effectively whiten your teeth, it takes a period of weeks to distinctly see results. For kids who are looking for a quick solution to whiten their teeth, the slow speed of results commonly causes disappointment. This makes them more likely to use teeth whitening products more often than recommended by the manufacturer in order to see results more quickly.

This can be dangerous because at-home whitening products, whether they are trays or strips, are not shaped perfectly to your mouth like the custom-made trays that dentists use. This allows your child to swallow a large amount of the peroxide, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. In addition, the poor fit of at-home whitening kids leads to uneven whitening of the teeth; the front teeth often become much whiter than teeth farther back in the mouth.

Work Closely With Your Dentist To Find A Solution

In some cases, such as if your child is being teased at school for his or her stained teeth and it is causing severe emotional distress, it may be prudent to whiten your child's teeth. While it can cause painful sensitivity, this sensitivity is temporary. The teeth whitening products that dentists use work much faster than teeth whitening products that you can buy at-home, and performing all the whitening at a dentist's office prevents your child from overusing teeth whitening products.