Table of Contents
When your child reaches the tween and teen years, they tend to become more concerned about their appearance. It’s hard to avoid the media serving up images of celebrities with perfect skin, hair and smiles. Even younger children may ask about tooth whitening as their favorite stars flash gorgeous white smiles. But is tooth whitening safe and appropriate for children? The short answer is yes–professional tooth whitening is a safe option for older children. However, we recommend tooth whitening only after your child has all their permanent teeth and after you’ve had a thoughtful conversation with your family dentist.
Is Tooth Whitening Safe for Older Children?
Professional tooth whitening is safe for teens. However, it’s only appropriate after your child has all their permanent teeth. Age 13 or 14 is the earliest we consider professional whitening for teens. It’s also important to consider why your child is asking for whitening. If it’s because of peer pressure, consider alternative options and focus on the benefits of oral health and hygiene. If their request is related to discoloration from oral health issues or orthodontic care, whitening treatment by your family dentist may be a helpful option to help boost your child’s self-confidence. However, avoiding overexposure to hydrogen peroxide is vital. It can increase tooth sensitivity and irritate your child’s gums.
Can My Child Use Whitening Toothpaste?
Whitening toothpaste can be safe and effective for older kids. However, strong abrasives in whitening toothpaste formulated for adults can increase tooth sensitivity. Make sure you’re using an age-appropriate version with lower levels of peroxide. Consider switching back and forth between whitening toothpaste and regular toothpaste. Remember, keep expectations reasonable for your child. Whitening toothpaste can remove stains on a limited basis but won’t make a dramatic difference. Finally, talk to your family dentist before trying a whitening toothpaste for your child. Your dentist can give you recommendations and precautions.
What Are Alternatives to Tooth Whitening for Children?
If your younger child inquires about tooth whitening, redirect them to strategies for keeping teeth healthy and naturally white:
- Focus on good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing daily.
- Ask your family dentist about using a child-safe mouth rinse at the appropriate age.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit sugar and avoid sodas.
- Brush with baking soda.
- See your family dentist every six months for checkups and professional cleanings.
Why Is Professional Whitening the Best Choice for My Teen?
If you and your teen decide whitening is a good option, we recommend custom take-home whitening trays from your family dentist. This approach promotes effective whitening with lower levels of peroxide. The trays are personalized for your teen to fit their mouth and protect the gums and other soft tissue. At Hall Family Dentistry, we’re happy to talk with you and your teen about customized whitening trays. We also love engaging younger kids about keeping teeth healthy and white through excellent oral hygiene and nutrition. Focusing on a healthy, beautiful smile is a terrific motivator for our young patients.