Parents often start to ask about teeth whitening when their children reach the age of about eight or nine. That’s the time when permanent upper incisors (four in front) begin to appear. The enamel quality of permanent teeth is different, so they sometimes seem yellow next to the chalky whiteness of baby teeth. As a child’s smile continues to develop, this contrast becomes less and less noticeable.
If parents and children are interested in teeth whitening, we generally recommend they wait until about the age of 13—when most permanent teeth have surfaced.
Teeth whitening is an easy and affordable way to help boost your child’s confidence in their smile or reduce their self-consciousness.
WHAT ARE OPTIONS FOR TEETH WHITENING?
Both in-office treatments and over-the-counter products are available, but convenience, cost and effectiveness differ.
In our office, we use KöR, a system that includes customized molded trays of your child’s teeth and all the supplies you need for whitening. Our whitening agent is preservative free, which means it’s much more concentrated than over-the-counter options, and our custom trays keep the gel exactly where it should be. The results are more profound and longer lasting. And the maintenance is considerably easier—just once a month after the initial two-week treatment.
Over-the-counter products, like whitening strips, can enhance the brightness of your child’s teeth, but the full two-week treatment typically must be repeated every three to six months to sustain results. We caution parents against using pens or rub-on applications—for whitening to work, the product should sit on the teeth for a longer time period and be peroxide based.
ARE THERE RISKS INVOLVED?
Tooth sensitivity is the biggest drawback to whitening. The KöR system has a desensitizing agent specifically designed for whitening. Toothpastes, like Sensodyne, may be helpful, but we often recommend Prevident 5000, a prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste that serves as a desensitizer. When teeth are especially sensitive, we offer additional tips and tricks that can be helpful and repeated whenever your child is experiencing discomfort.
HOW DO I LEARN MORE?
We’re happy to discuss whitening and answer questions at your child’s routine dental checkup. If your family is seeking a partner in oral health, please contact us. You can learn more about oral health and our dental practice by reading some of our other blog posts.