How Young is Too Young for Tooth Bleaching/Whitening?

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Simply put, teeth whitening can help brighten your smile. That’s a big part of the reason why it’s become so popular in recent years – it can help stained or discolored teeth back to their natural white, boosting one’s self-esteem and confidence in the process.

There are a bevy of teeth whitening methods available today, from those that you can purchase over the counter at your local supermarket to professional bleaching and whitening services that are administered by your dentist.

Yes, teeth whitening is popular, but is it a treatment for all? Specifically, is it safe for children and teenagers to have such treatments administered?

Where’s the risk?

The main risk associated with children and teenagers undergoing teeth whitening procedures has to do with a potential for increased sensitivity following the whitening itself. Teeth whitening, in general, can result in some increased sensitivity around the gum line, but this is even more likely in children and teenagers. Why? Because the pulp of the tooth may not yet be fully formed in younger patients.

There’s one other key risk associated with teeth whitening in youngsters, and this risk isn’t so much of an issue with pain and sensitivity following the process as it is with the end result. That’s because if a child has a mix of teeth – specifically a combination of primary teeth (i.e. “baby teeth”) that they’ve yet to lose with permanent teeth – then teeth whitening can ultimately lead to teeth being different shades of white.

How young is too young?

Now that we’ve gone over the risks, the question still remains – how young is too young for teeth whitening? Every dentist likely has their own opinion and suggested minimum age, but the Academy of General Dentistry, a popular dental association, states that no child under the age of 14 should have teeth whitening procedures done. That’s because 14 is usually the age when the tooth pulp is completely formed, thereby greatly reducing the potential for sensitivity following the procedure. Furthermore, by age 14, children have lost all of their baby teeth, so there’s not likely to be any issues with discoloration from a mix of teeth in the mouth.

It’s worth noting, however, that while the Academy of General Dentistry suggests children don’t receive teeth whitening treatment until at least age 14, and many dentists won’t perform teeth whitening on patients who are under 16. While there are dentists that perform teeth whitening on any patient, regardless of age, always be sure that they’re explaining any potential risks or effects involved with the process so that you can be as informed as possible before sending your child in for the procedure. Generally speaking, the best way to whiten teeth for kids and teenagers is to practice good oral care.

For more information on teeth whitening, and what the appropriate ages to receive the procedure are, contact Caven Dental today.

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