Can you whiten my kid's teeth?
Nothing beats a great smile!
There is no doubt that people who love their smiles are going to be more confident than those who do not. Children can be conscious of their smiles too. If their peers perceive their teeth to be “yellow”, it can lead to teasing and hurtful comments. Let’s talk about teeth whitening in kids.
What are the common types of stains and their causes?
Extrinsic stains –
Plaque/Tartar build-up can appear yellow.
Food stains – Tea/Coffee/Colored beverages
Stains from medications – for example, Iron supplements
Intrinsic stains -
Trauma to teeth – the nerve in the tooth can discolor the tooth if it’s injured and dying.
Enamel defects – Excess Fluoride, developmentally defective enamel, etc
Extrinsic stains as you can imagine would be easier to get rid of. They also respond better to over-the-counter whitening products like toothpaste, whitening strips, etc.
Is whitening safe in kids?
I would strongly recommend talking to your dentist or hygienist about over-the-counter products you are thinking of trying. Additionally, if you have untreated cavities, whitening products could cause pain or heightened sensitivity. The latest fad seems to be Charcoal toothpaste. Preliminary research on these is very alarming. They can be really abrasive to the enamel and there are reports of charcoal particles getting caught in the gums and in between the teeth!! This can cause inflammation of the gums and painful lesions in the mouth. Here’s an article from 2018 that goes into a lot of detail about Charcoal toothpaste.
ADA-approved toothpastes that promise whitening, have a milder concentration of bleach and can be used safely. Whitening strips can also be helpful but should be used sparingly and not for prolonged periods of time.
Professional whitening products have a higher concentration of peroxide products/bleach. They are typically only recommended when the permanent teeth have matured, around 14 years of age or older. Using whitening products in younger kids could result in severe sensitivity or worse damage to the nerve or the pulp of the tooth. If you remember from a previous newsletter, I discussed how newly erupted permanent teeth have larger pulps. This makes them more likely to be painfully sensitive. See - Sensitive teeth in kids
How can I prevent my kid’s teeth from yellowing?
Reinforcing better oral hygiene
Avoiding foods/beverages that discolor teeth
Regular dental check-ups and cleaning