Teeth Whitening for Children and Teens
Proudly serving Newton MA and surrounding towns.
A healthy, white smile is one of the best accessories your child will ever wear. But when injuries, stains, or other complications cause irregular discoloration, your child or teen may be asking, “Can I get my teeth whitened?”
Before you rush into the store to purchase whitening products for a child or teen, there are some important things to know.
“Why Are My Child’s Teeth Yellow?”
As adult teeth start to erupt next to still-present baby teeth, the color contrast can be extreme. Most baby teeth are a bright, almost chalky-white hue. It’s easy to take their white shade for granted. But when permanent teeth begin to erupt through the gumlines, you notice a significant difference: the adult teeth look yellow.
Rest assured, this color difference is extremely normal and even healthy. Baby teeth have an large proportion of enamel. But adult teeth have a thick layer of dentin between the enamel and the nerve in the middle of the tooth. Dentin is naturally darker yellow in color. As such, some of that shade shines through your child’s semi-transparent tooth enamel. When teeth erupt, the deeper yellow hue can seem unnatural or cause self-consciousness, but it’s actually normal and healthy.
If your child is embarrassed, assure them that once all of their baby teeth fall out and the adult teeth come in, their smile will have a more consistent color. When each of the teeth match one another, the slight color variance will be much less noticeable.
What Causes Tooth Stain?
Dental stain can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Prescription medication, including certain antibiotics
- Silver diamine fluoride
- Arrested tooth decay
- Hypercalcification and hypocalcification
- Past trauma to the tooth
- Nerve death
- Dark foods and liquids
- Vitamins and supplements
Some of these stains are external and can be polished off of teeth during regular dental cleanings. Others are internal. In those instances, teeth whitening or bleaching is the only way to enhance the color of the tooth enamel.
Even if you suspect that the stains are external, do not use abrasive products such as baking soda to try to clean them off on your own. Abrasives can permanently damage tooth enamel, resulting in additional stain buildup.
Safe Teeth Whitening for Teens
Whitening products are safer for older teens whose teeth are healthy. It’s extremely important that they first have a screening for gum disease and tooth decay. Applying whitening products to an area of infection could result in significant pain or hypersensitivity.
Since your teen’s teeth are still developing, it’s likely that their enlarged nerve structures will be more sensitive than adult teeth are. For that reason, it’s better to use an over-the-counter whitening product such as strips. Lower concentrations of gel and a shorter wear time can help reduce the chances of developing sensitivity. Alternating whitening every other day or incorporating a sensitivity toothpaste can also be helpful.
Our dentist can discuss how well your teen’s teeth will respond to whitening products and recommend the best system for their smile. Once their teeth are fully developed, a custom set of whitening trays will likely offer the best results.
How to Use Whitening Trays
Teen whitening trays are used the same way as those designed for adults. Each set of trays is custom molded to the teeth for a snug fit that hugs every curve. We’ll prescribe the right strength of gel and show you how to apply a small dot of product into the reservoir for each tooth. Gently press the trays down on your teeth to distribute the gel evenly. Depending on the gel you’re using, your teen will either wear them 30-60 minutes per day or sleep in them overnight.
If your teen is also undergoing Invisalign treatment, it may be possible for their aligners to double as whitening trays!
Just like an orthodontic retainer or Invisalign tray, it’s important for your teen to clean their whitening trays regularly. An effervescent denture cleanser works great to loosen buildup so that it’s easy to brush off. Just be sure to use lukewarm water, as hot temperatures could cause the trays to warp.
Get Started Today
Is your teen constantly asking about whitening their teeth? Are you concerned about the color of your child’s tooth enamel? Explore safe stain removal and teeth whitening for teens, whether it’s a professional dental cleaning or a take-home whitening kit.
Find out which option is best for your family. Contact our office today to reserve an exam. Call (617) 527-6061 or request an appointment online.