Is there a right time to whiten your child’s teeth? Parents – have you noticed that your child’s teeth appear to be darker than your own and has that realization prompted you to consider teeth whitening for your child? “The enamel of baby teeth is much thinner than adult teeth, so the teeth darken faster,” said Dr. Lela Farmer, lead dentist at Scuba Smiles For Kids in North Centeral San Antonio. If you are considering moving forward with whitening your child’s teeth, we want you to consider 4 important pieces of information:
#1 Consider your child’s age
We do not recommend any bleaching until all of the baby teeth have fallen out from your child’s mouth. If you are using at-home bleaching products, make sure you read the product label for recommended ages and instructions. “Even though their baby teeth may have dark shadows on the enamel, those teeth do not last forever. Once their baby teeth fall out, I feel it is a better time to consider whether to whiten their teeth,” said Dr. Farmer. If you decide to go ahead and bleach anyway, we urge you to use an at-home kit with a low amount of bleach.
#2 Know the risks of strips
If you go ahead with any kind of whitening strips for your child ,make sure to read the package for any potential risks or side effects. According to Colgate, whitening strips are safe for children when correctly applied, but there is still the potential for user error. “If you leave the strips on for a period of time longer than what is recommended, the teeth and gums can become sensitive and irritated. Same with adults. But with children the irritation tends to be more severe,” said Dr. Farmer. Also, positioning the strips on the gum incorrectly could lead gum damage. There is also the chance a child may accidentally swallow the strips.
#3 Consider natural ways to whiten your child’s teeth
If you want your child’s teeth to be whiter, but do not want to deal with the risks of bleaching, there are several natural ways to whiten their teeth. These include the consumption of fruits such pineapple and strawberries to help remove plaque and stains, and avoiding acidic and sugary foods which are a significant cause of tooth discoloration in children. Be sure to avoid beverages that stain teeth, too—grape juice, tea, dark sodas.
#4 Use proper planning
Before moving forward with any kind of bleaching to whiten your child’s teeth, make sure you plan ahead and consult with your dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says any type of bleaching, whether it be at-home or in a pediatric dental office, should be carried out under the guidance of a dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry also recommends that you have a treatment plan for your child and make sure the timing of the whitening is appropriate for the child’s age. Also consider any kind of side effects that the bleaching may cause, and if those side effects could be tolerated by your child.
The best way to ensure your child’s teeth are white and healthy is to prevent discoloration in the first place. Make sure your child is flossing and brushing their teeth properly at least twice a day, that you see your pediatric dentist at least twice a year for an exam and cleaning, and that they are taught proper tooth and gum safety as soon as they are old enough to understand.
Our vision at Scuba Smiles for Kids is to be your partner in maintaining your child’s dental health so that they develop lifelong healthy dental and nutrition habits.