The teeth whitening industry is worth $1.4 billion growing in excess of 300% the last few years. A large portion of this market is image-conscious teenagers.
While it is not at all uncommon for most people to desire a whiter, brighter, and more beautiful smile, it is advised that teenagers seek professional dental supervision in accomplishing this goal rather than turning to do-it-yourself/over-the-counter teeth whitening products.
At What Age Is It Safe for Teens to Whiten Their Teeth?
According to the Academy of General Dentistry or “AGD”, teenagers that have a desire to use whitening products should wait until – at least – the age of 14.
It is at this point in a teen’s life when the pulp of their teeth is completely formed.
Whitening products have the potential to result in immense levels of tooth sensitivity – especially if done too soon in a teen’s life. By waiting until the pulp is completely formed, less sensitivity will be experienced.
What Does Research Say When It Comes to the Main Issues with Teeth Whitening Among Teens?
For several years now, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has performed research on the safety of teeth whitening product usage among kids and teenagers.
This research stemmed from the ease of accessibility of the products, as well as the popularity of such products among younger populations. While conducting the research, the AAPD actually discovered a few areas of concern. They are as follows:
- All tooth whitening kits include instructions; however, these are not being appropriately followed by younger age groups. If the product is left on too long, swallowed, or allowed to come into contact with the soft tissue in the mouth for too long, it could result in pain, damage, and other health-related issues.
- The most active ingredient in tooth whitening products is hydrogen peroxide. While most kits only contain mild percentages of this ingredient, other products include extremely high levels of hydrogen peroxide. This substance could result in damage to the enamel on the teeth if used in high concentrations or left on the teeth for too long. Additionally, it could result in an immense degree of sensitivity of the teeth.
- One of the most common issues that occur when a kid or teenager uses teeth whitening products is the fact that they suffer from tooth sensitivity and pain. In many instances, this is because of the fact that there are high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide in the product. In other cases, it is because of the pulp of the teeth is not fully formed. Then, there are those situations – such as decay and gum disease – that may become aggravated after using teeth whitening products.
Is My Child a Good Candidate for At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits?
Unless you take your child to a pediatric dentist, you will never truly know if they are a good candidate for teeth whitening. Only a dental professional is able to make that determination.
All of the whitening products currently available on the market are designed to change the color of the tooth enamel.
They are not designed to work on dental devices – such as fillings, veneers, or crowns.
Teens that have tooth sensitivity, decay on the teeth, cavities, teeth that have cracks, and disease of the gums are likely not going to be considered a good candidate. Not only can the products exacerbate already-present issues, but they can also result in an immense degree of pain and discomfort.
Why Are My Teen’s Teeth Discolored?
If dental cleanings are being performed on a routine basis, a teen’s teeth are typically white. However, there are some situations that could result in discoloration.
Before any whitening is performed, a dentist should examine your child to determine what is causing the discoloration. The following issues may be to blame:
- The tooth has experienced some type of injury
- Previous dental treatments could have made some areas lighter than others
- Taking certain medications such as iron, vitamins, and even antibiotics could have discolored the teeth
There are cases where the discoloration is only perceived as such or it is a result of a natural tooth color variations. While it is true that we all aim for perfectly white teeth, it is a rare event among people that all teeth are perfectly white.
Are There Conditions That May Make Tooth Whitening Unsuccessful?
There are certain situations where professional teeth whitening may not take well. The good news is, if these issues are resolved, the process should be a success.
To date, the following situations have been identified as those that should be taken into heavy consideration and/or resolved prior to initiating the process of whitening the teeth:
- If the teen suffers from dry mouth
- If the teen does not practice good oral hygiene
- If there is an enzymatic disorder of the body
- If tooth grinding is a common occurrence
- If there are respiratory disorders present, such as asthma
- If the individual suffers from an issue with the digestive tract
- If there are allergies or hypersensitivities to vinyl and/or hydrogen-based compounds
- If the teen tends to breathe from their mouth more than both the nose and mouth
- Tooth decay is present in the teen’s mouth
- The teen has a high level of erosion on the enamel of the teeth
If teeth whitening treatment is conservative, done in a professional setting, and the teen is 14 years of age or older, whitening should be a safe treatment.
Naturally, a parent or guardian will have to agree through official consent forms. It should be understood that many stains on the teeth may be removed through a comprehensive, professional cleaning with a pediatric dentist.
In most instances, you and your teen will find that the results are successful and whitening services are not needed. Due to this fact, it is always recommended you choose complete cleaning prior to whitening services. If you would like more information, give us a call.