Too Young for Dental Teeth Whitening?

Row of three smiling young school girls sitting in classTeeth whitening is easily one of the most highly-requested cosmetic procedures among dental patients, even children—not just in St. Augustine, but all across the country. Few patients are seeking ultra-white smiles, but most would prefer to brighten their teeth by at least a few shades. Although teeth whitening is widely accepted and proven to be perfectly safe, what would you say if your child asked to have professionally-whitened teeth?

Several decades ago, this question would have seemed absurd, but in today’s Instagram world, kids and teens are as concerned about their appearance as adults. Stained or discolored teeth can dampen a child’s sense of confidence at school or with friends. And, while bleaching the teeth generally a safe and simple process, there are several issues to consider when it comes to whitening children’s smile.

Growth Process: A young child’s teeth will grow into the mouth at a considerably slow rate. Though much of the tooth may be visible above the gumline, there may be several millimeters of enamel below the gumline which won’t be exposed for a few more years. Whitening the teeth too soon could leave a portion of the tooth untreated, resulting in uneven coloring in your child’s future smile.

Sensitivity: Teeth whitening tends to cause mild (but reversible) tooth sensitivity. Due to the large size of the dental nerve in children’s teeth, this sensitivity could be more severe or even painful than they expected adult response. As we age, the dental nerve shrinks within the tooth and sensitivity typically becomes much less noticeable.

Results: Take-home bleach trays and whitening strips are most successful when they are applied to the teeth regularly and properly. This requires a level of responsibility and commitment that seems to challenge many children. Even if the procedure has been approved by your dentist, remember to consider your child’s level of personal maturity before making the decision.

Is teeth-whitening okay for your child? It’s an individual choice that should only be made after you’ve considered the facts and have consulted a dentist.