Can Children and Teens Get Their Teeth Whitened?

Our Vancouver dentists advise against teeth whitening for children and young teens for a few important reasons. We'll share these today and tell you how your child or teen can help prevent teeth staining and discolouration.

Teeth whitening is not an appropriate cosmetic for young people. In this post, our Vancouver dentists explain why we advise against this procedure.

1. Their teeth are probably not actually discoloured.

Sometimes, parents will mention they've noticed that their child's erupting adult teeth appear a bit yellow, especially when compared to the baby teeth that remain in the mouth. As a result, they ask whether having their children's teeth whitened would make sense.

However, it's actually normal for adult teeth to appear more yellow than baby teeth. This happens because adult teeth have significantly more dentin (the layer of tooth directly below the enamel). Dentin is yellow in colour and can make adult teeth appear unusually yellow next to baby teeth in a child's mouth. 

Typically, the perceived discolouration will sort itself out once all the baby teeth have fallen out. This is why teeth whitening is usually completely unnecessary for children and young teens. 

2. We don’t know if whitening is safe for developing teeth.

Another reason most dentists will not whiten children's teeth is that we simply don't know if it safe to do so. Little data is available to tell us about the potential effects teeth whitening agents can have on teeth that are still developing. So, it's best to err on the side of caution. 

Causes of tooth discolouration in kids

There are many possible causes of teeth discolouration in children:

  • Poor dental hygiene habits
  • Pigmentation due to food and beverage stains
  • Intake of medications that contain iron (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
  • Tooth decay
  • 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 discolouration with the use of whitening toothpaste. 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 Image Smiles.

If you have questions about teeth whitening or about your children’s oral development, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with our Vancouver dentists.

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