When is Too Young for Teeth Whitening?

Published:January 26th, 2012

Image Credit: royalyorkdental.com

Teeth whitening is one of the most requested cosmetic dental procedures in America today. Americans generally believe that a great smile is the first step in being more successful in life and love. Whiter teeth are more aesthetically appealing and thus teeth whitening has become so popular. The problem being, of course, that teeth naturally darken and pick up stains as we age.

This has led to an explosion of dental whitening procedures ranging from simple DIY kits for home to complex dental procedures. As long as the product has peroxide in it, it will lighten your teeth as long as you follow directions. Adults can safely use these kits, or ones provided by the dentist. That said, is it safe for kids to use tooth whitening products?

The Problem


Tooth whitening can lead to tooth sensitivity and gum irritation for a week or two afterwards. This can range from mild to severe sensitivity. When it comes to kids under the age of 16, tooth sensitivity is the least of their worries. Of more concern is the effect on how the teeth mature. Teeth mature well into your teens and whitening immature teeth can present problems.

Aesthetic Problems


Some teens are going to have a mix of primary and permanent teeth and will find that the color of their teeth becomes uneven as the teeth mature. It is difficult, at a later stage, to match teeth colors.

Immature Enamel


You usually only lose your very last baby tooth at about twelve years old and, after this, it takes about two years for the enamel to fully mature. Before this the enamel is more porous and the tooth’s nerve is enlarged. This means that immature enamel allows more peroxide to enter into the nerve and this creates a situation where tooth sensitivity is increased. Also because of this, bleaching is quicker and you may end up leaving the solution on for too long.

For safety reasons, therefore, let your kids wait to have their teeth whitened until they are at least 16.


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