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Can Children and Teens Get Their Teeth Whitened?

Our Ontario dentists recommend against teeth whitening for children and young teens. In this post, we mention a few important reasons why. 

Our dentists across Ontario don't recommend teeth whitening for children and teens since this cosmetic treatment is not appropriate for young people. Here are two primary reasons why:

1. Their teeth are probably not actually discoloured.

Sometimes, children's erupting adult teeth may look a bit yellow, especially when compared to baby teeth that are still in the mouth. Parents may notice this and wonder whether it would make sense to have their children's teeth whitened. 

That said, it's completely normal for adult teeth to appear more yellow than baby teeth. This occurs because adult teeth contain significantly more dentin (the layer of the teeth directly underneath the enamel). Dentin is yellow in colour and can make adult teeth appear unusually yellow when they come in next to baby teeth in the mouth. 

This perceived discolouration will typically sort itself out once all of a child's baby teeth have fallen out. This is why whitening is usually completely unnecessary for children and young teens. 

2. We don’t know if whitening is safe for developing teeth.

Because the safety of whitening procedures for children is uncertain, most dentists will not whiten children's teeth. Little data is available to indicate what the effects of whitening agents would be on teeth that continue to develop, so it's best to err on the side of caution. 

Causes of tooth discolouration in kids

There are many possible causes of teeth discolouration in children:

  • Poor dental hygiene habits
  • Pigmentation due to food and beverage stains
  • Intake of medications that contain iron (vitamin supplements)
  • Decalcification of enamel due to the removal of braces
  • Nerve damage or tooth trauma
  • Excessive fluoride due to use of infant formula combined with fluoridated water
  • Tooth decay
  • Mother is taking tetracycline while pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Medical conditions that hinder teeth development during infancy

How to help them prevent staining

Since teeth whitening procedures are not an option, your child or teen can still help prevent staining and discolouration with the use of whitening toothpaste. Additionally, foods and drinks that cause staining, such as dark sodas, can be avoided.

If you want to learn more about teeth whitening for children, you can reach out to one of the dentists at Toothworks.

Do you have questions about teeth whitening or about your children's oral development? Contact a Toothworks location near you today to book an appointment.

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Since 2001, Toothworks Dental Clinics have been providing patients of all ages with personalized dental care and a welcoming experience at locations across Ontario.

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