Can Children and Teens Get Their Teeth Whitened?

Generally speaking, our Kamloops dentists advise against teeth whitening for children and young teens. Here we explain why. 

Our Kamloops dentists don’t recommend teeth whitening for children and teens. There are two main reasons this cosmetic treatment is not suitable for them:

1. Their teeth are probably not actually discoloured.

Parents sometimes notice that their children’s erupting adult teeth look a bit yellow, especially when compared to the baby teeth that remain in the mouth. As a result, they ask whether it would make sense to have their children’s teeth whitened.

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). Dentin is yellow in colour and can make the adult teeth appear unusually yellow when they’re next to baby teeth in the mouth.

This perceived discolouration typically sorts itself out once all the baby teeth have fallen out and so a whitening treatment is not necessary. 

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

Most dentists will not whiten children’s teeth because there is not enough data on the effects of whitening teeth that are still developing. We simply don’t know if it’s safe, 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, preventive care is the best option for helping your child or teen prevent staining and discolouration. Teaching them good at-home oral hygiene, bringing them for regular professional hygiene appointments, and having them avoid frequently consuming things that can cause staining (like dark sodas) can go a long way in helping their smile stay bright. 

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

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