Can You Whiten Kids’ Teeth?

Teeth whitening is increasingly popular in the U.S. According to statistics, 14% of the population—45 million people—have had a professional whitening procedure. This doesn’t include the many more people who have used over-the-counter products.

Teens and kids are even getting in on the practice. If your kids ask about bleaching their teeth, what will you say? Knowing how to whiten kids’ teeth safely and at an appropriate age will help protect them and lower the risk of harmful side effects.

Is There a Minimum Age for Teeth Whitening?

There is no definitive age at which it is safe to undergo a teeth whitening procedure or use whitening products. In general, dentists recommend no teeth whitening until the permanent teeth have fully erupted. According to the American Dental Association, there is not enough research to determine whether it is safe to bleach primary teeth.

The age at which all the permanent teeth have come in varies by individual. Most children will have them all by the age of 12 or 13, but waiting until your child is at least 15 to whiten teeth is safest. Even when all the permanent teeth are in, it takes some time for the enamel to completely develop.

Why Are My Child’s Teeth Discolored?

There are many potential reasons your child or teen has some teeth discoloration. First, it’s important to understand that permanent teeth are always more yellow than primary teeth, so you’ll see some differences as they lose their baby teeth.

Other causes of discoloration in a child’s teeth include an injury to a tooth, a cavity, certain medications, iron supplements, and dark-colored foods. Before deciding to whiten their teeth, see your pediatric dentist to find out why there is discoloration and to get the appropriate treatment.

Potential Risks of Teeth Whitening in Children

Teeth whitening products contain one of two bleaching compounds: hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. The concentration of bleach varies by product. Those used in dental offices are typically more concentrated than over-the-counter whitening strips and toothpastes.

These bleaches are generally considered safe to use, but they can cause tooth sensitivity or even damage to tooth enamel or gums in adults. There may be more significant risks of using these products on primary teeth or still developing permanent teeth:

  • As with adults, teeth bleaching products can cause tooth sensitivity or gum irritation in children and adolescents.
  • Bleaching can cause differences in color among teeth, especially if the child has a mix of primary and permanent teeth.
  • The bleach can cause pitting or disintegration in underdeveloped enamel.
  • Bleaching products can demineralize the dentin, weakening teeth.
  • Children or teens are more likely than adults to misuse or overuse home bleaching products, which increases the risk of harm.

Safe Teeth Whitening for Teens

If your teen is asking about teeth whitening, it could be a safe option that boosts their self-confidence. It’s important to talk to your child’s dentist before allowing them to try any teeth whitening products. It’s not right for everyone, and your dentist can help you decide if your teen is ready to try it.

The safest way to whiten teeth—for both adults and teens—is to get a treatment in the dental office. At Newtown, our dentists use a safe whitening system with minimal risk of tooth sensitivity.

If your dentist gives your teen the go-ahead to try an over-the-counter whitening system, supervise their use. Read the instructions carefully and use only as directed. Ensure they do not use it too frequently.

Teeth whitening at Newtown is fast, easy, and low-risk. Your child might not be old enough yet, but most teens can safely undergo this simple treatment. If you think it might boost your child’s confidence, come and talk to us about the options. Request an appointment with your child’s favorite Newtown dentist.


    Newtown Dentistry

  • DATE

    September 5, 2023


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