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Can Children and Teens Get Their Teeth Whitened?

A few parents notice their children's or teen's teeth getting yellow and wonder if whitening is a good option for them. In this post, our Riverview team explains why dentists often advise against getting children or teen teeth whitened.

Our Riverview dentists do not recommend teeth whitening for children and teens for two main reasons:

1. Their teeth are probably not actually discoloured.

When children's baby teeth fall out and adult teeth begin to erupt in their place, some parents notice that their children's new teeth look a bit yellow in comparison to the old ones. As a result, the cosmetic whitening procedure comes to mind. 

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

Most dentists will not whiten children’s teeth because the fact is, we simply don’t know if it’s safe to do so. There is little data available to tell us what the effects of whitening agents would be on teeth that are still developing, and so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Causes of tooth discolouration in kids

There are many possible causes of teeth discolouration in children:

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

How to help them prevent staining

Since teeth whitening procedures are not an option, your child or teen can still help prevent staining and discolouration with the use of whitening toothpaste. Additionally, foods and drinks that cause staining, 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 dentists at Riverview Dentistry.

For more answers to questions about children's dental care, contact our Riverview dentists today!

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