Many parents wonder whether teeth whitening for teenagers is safe and at what age teeth whitening would be appropriate. Teens may also feel self-conscious of their smiles especially if their friends recently underwent teeth whitening and they feel peer pressure to do the same.
Everybody wants a beautiful white smile, and chances are your teen may even come to you and ask for a teeth-whitening kit. As teeth whitening kits become more available and popular in pharmacies and online stores, you need to understand the risks and possible side effects before deciding to purchase them for your teen.
Teeth whitening is safest for teens when performed and advised by a certified medical professional such as a dentist. Some teeth whitening kits involve the usage of a custom-made bleaching tray which only a dentist can fit properly to your teen’s mouth. Without taking the proper precautions, the material in the teeth whitening kits or bleaching tray may damage and aggravate sensitive teeth and gums, or damage existing dental restorations such as crowns or fillings.
Most teeth whitening products such as whitening gels, strips, and toothpaste contain hydrogen peroxide as the primary ingredient. The concentration may vary for different products but can be as high as 13%. This may thus harm young teeth and teeth that are still developing. This is because baby teeth have thinner enamel and dentin and a larger pulp.
The pulp refers to the living connective tissue present inside the teeth. The strong chemical in the teeth whitening products can therefore increase the chances of enamel pitting and disintegration, injure the tooth or pulp nerves, dentin demineralization, increase tooth sensitivity, and result in variations in tooth color.
The Right Age to Whiten
If you properly understand the risks and precautions associated with teeth whitening, you should therefore only allow your teeth to go for teeth whitening procedures under the dentist’s recommendation if your teen already has all their permanent teeth.
The right age thus depends on your teen’s dentist and teen’s teeth. However, as a general precaution, most dentists recommend that teens earlier than 14 years of age do not whiten their teeth. However, this may not apply to everyone as if your teen already has all of his or her permanent teeth by 13, he or she may be ready for teeth whitening products under a dentist’s supervision.
Professional Teeth Whitening
There are various teeth-whitening treatments for your teens. Some of them are in-office laser teeth whitening treatments conducted by the dentist, whitening strips, whitening gels, custom dental trays, and regular in-office dental polishing and cleaning. Professional in-office laser teeth whitening treatments provide long-lasting results, are quick and easy, and have proven to be safe. This involves the use of a laser to whiten your teen’s teeth while ensuring that your teen’s eyes and gums are fully protected from the laser. Custom whitening dental trays can also ensure a personalized treatment for your teen and yield great results. The dental trays are custom made to suit your teen’s teeth, while a professional-strength whitening gel will help to whiten your teen’s smile. This process takes slightly longer around 2 weeks compared to the laser whitening treatment.