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Can Children and Teens Get Their Teeth Whitened?

For a few important reasons, our Grande Prairie orthodontists advise against teeth whitening for children and young teens.

Our Grande Prairie orthodontists do not recommend teeth whitening for children and adolescents because this cosmetic procedure is unsuitable for this age group. There are principally two reasons for this:

1. Their teeth are probably not actually 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 is normal for adult teeth to appear yellower than baby teeth. This occurs since adult teeth contain considerably more dentin (the layer of the teeth directly beneath the enamel). Dentin is yellow, which can make adult teeth appear unnaturally yellow when they are adjacent to baby teeth.

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 don’t know if whitening is safe for developing teeth.

The majority of orthodontists do not whiten children's teeth because we do not know if it is safe to do so. It is prudent to err on the side of caution due to the paucity of information regarding the effects of teeth-whitening agents on developing teeth.

Causes of tooth discolouration in kids

There are many possible causes of teeth discolouration in children:

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

How to help them prevent staining

Since teeth whitening procedures are not available, your child or teen can still prevent discoloration and staining by using whitening toothpaste. Additionally, stains-causing foods and beverages, such as dark sodas, can be avoided.

If you want to learn more about teeth whitening for children, you can reach out to one of the orthodontists at Ortho 101.

If you have questions about teeth whitening or about your children’s oral development, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with our Grande Prairie orthodontists.

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