Can Children and Teens Get Their Teeth Whitened?

Posted Mar 23rd, 2022

Today, our Lethbridge dentists explain the reasons why we advise against teeth whitening treatments for children and young teens.

At Southridge Dental we don’t recommend teeth whitening services for children and teens as this isn't an appropriate cosmetic treatment for young people. Here, we explain the two main reasons why:

1. Their teeth are most likely not 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. For this reason, whitening is usually completely unnecessary for children and young teens.

2. We aren't sure if whitening is safe for teeth that are developing.

Many dentists don't provide whitening services to children because we don't know if it is actually safe to do it. There isn't a lot of data available to explain what the effects of whitening agents could have on teeth that haven't fully developed yet, therefore it's best to be on the cautious side.

Causes of tooth discolouration in Children

Below we have listed the reasons why children might have discoloured teeth.

  • Tooth decay
  • Medical conditions that hinder teeth development during infancy
  • Pigmentation due to food and beverage stains
  • Poor dental hygiene habits
  • Nerve damage or tooth trauma
  • Excessive fluoride due to use of infant formula combined with fluoridated water
  • Decalcification of enamel due to the removal of braces
  • Intake of medications that contain iron (vitamin supplements)
  • Mother is taking tetracycline while pregnant or breastfeeding

Ways to Help Prevent Stained Teeth

While teeth whitening may not be an option for your child or teen, you may still help prevent tooth discolouration and staining by using a whitening toothpaste. Avoiding drinks and foods that cause staining such as dark sodas could help as well.

Contact our Lethbridge dentists today to learn more about teeth whitening or your child's oral health development.

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