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Is it Safe for Teens to Whiten Their Teeth?

A white, healthy smile is arguably the best accessory your teen can wear. Some teens feel embarrassed by “yellow” smiles or teeth that have a variety of colors or shades. If your son or daughter is self-conscious about their teeth, there may be a safe option to help them regain their confidence.

Why are My Teen’s Teeth Yellow?

Primary (baby) teeth are naturally bright white because they don’t have the thick yellow dentin underneath the enamel that adult teeth do. So as adult teeth erupt, there’s a noticeable color change to the smile because teeth with a different anatomical makeup have arrived.

If your teen drinks a lot of coffee, tea, or soda, their enamel will pick up those dark stain particles and may look even darker. However, it’s natural to have at least some yellow tint to their teeth as that is simply the nature of what teeth are made of – yellowish dentin that protects our nerves hides right under our shiny, translucent enamel.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe for Teens?

Older teens who have healthy teeth and gums can safely whiten their smiles when using the appropriate products. Since their teeth are still developing, their nerves may be a bit more sensitive than adults. Additionally, tooth eruption fully arrests at a different age for each child. If changes are still occurring in the tissues, whitening too soon may create a problem once more of the tooth becomes visible and remains the original color. Generally speaking, however, gentle whitening strips or gels are safe to use when used as directed. The key is to have your child’s smile examined first.

It is extremely unsafe to use DIY whitening tactics on teeth. DIY doesn’t include professional whitening kits sold in stores approved by the American Dental Association. DIY includes “tricks” that may be seen on social media services that may be unsafe. Make sure your teen isn’t following any teeth whitening trends on TikTok or other social media channels as these approaches might cause irreversible tooth damage (and pricy dental work).

At home custom whitening is the best choice for very economical and predictable results. It is best to use professional whitening gel applied in a custom tray (a retainer that looks like Invisalign). This allows for accurate application of whitening gel to the teeth that are in the visible smile zone. It is also customizable if a particular tooth or area needs special attention. Your dentist or orthodontist can also monitor progress and shade change for more predictable results. Encourage your teen to use sensitivity toothpaste before, during, and after their treatment to minimize any side effects.

Teenage patients that went through Invisalign treatment can simply use their final retainers as a custom whitening tray. All you need is whitening solution, instructions and monitoring. Braces patients may need special retainers made for them to accomplish whitening goals.

A variety of in-office whitening techniques are available in general dental offices, as well. We do not offer these services but they may be available at your adult dentistry office. However, those services may not be appropriate for teenagers.

Visit Our Office for More Advice

Teens should never begin a tooth whitening routine without first visiting their dentist or orthodontist and discussing it with them first. While most patients can be candidates for whitening at the right age, it is best to discuss this with your dentist prior to starting. Call Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan today to request a consultation.



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