Our Etobicoke dentists don’t recommend teeth whitening treatments for children or teens. This entirely cosmetic treatment is not appropriate for young people for two main reasons:
1. Their teeth are probably not actually discolored.
Parents sometimes notice that their children’s adult teeth look a bit yellow when coming in, especially when compared to the whiter baby teeth that remain in the mouth. As a result, they consider having their child's teeth whitened to get ahead of the issue.
However, it’s completely normal for adult teeth to look more yellow than baby teeth. This happens because adult teeth contain significantly more dentin (the layer of the teeth directly beneath the enamel) due to being larger and generally stronger. Dentin is naturally yellow and can make the adult teeth appear significantly colored when they’re next to primary (baby) teeth.
This seeming discoloration typically sorts itself out once all the baby teeth have fallen out. For this reason, whitening is usually completely unnecessary for children.
2. We don’t know if whitening is safe for developing teeth.
Most dentists will not whiten children’s or young teen's teeth because the fact is, we simply don’t know if it’s safe to do so. A teenagers teeth could still be developing and gaining strength.
There is little data available to tell professionals what the effects of whitening agents would be on teeth that are still evolving, and so it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid it altogether, at least until they're older.
Causes of tooth discoloration in kids
You also have the option of trying your best to prevent yellowing teeth in the first place. Therefore, it's important to know the leading causes of discoloration in children's teeth:
- Poor or inconsistent dental hygiene
- Tooth decay
- Pigmentation due to eating staining food or beverage
- Intake of medications that contain iron (including some vitamin supplements)
- Decalcification of enamel due to the removal of braces
- Nerve damage or tooth trauma
- Excessive fluoride due to use of infant formula combined with fluoridated water
- Mother is taking tetracycline while pregnant or breastfeeding
- Medical conditions that hinder teeth development during infancy
How to help them prevent staining
Since teeth whitening procedures are not an option, your child or teen can still help prevent staining and discoloration with whitening toothpaste, which is usually gentle enough for developing teeth. Additionally, foods and drinks that cause staining, such as dark sodas, can be avoided.
If you want to learn more about teeth whitening for children, you can reach out to one of the dentists at Park Lawn Dental.