Most people associate teeth whitening with adults. It is, after all, a purely aesthetic treatment. In Jersey City, however, children and teens are requesting teeth whitening procedures more and more often. Like adults, adolescents and teens don’t like the negative attention caused by stained teeth.
Dr. Mila Cohen of True Dental Care for Kids & Teens can make a difference to kids who’re already suffering from low self-esteem. If your kids have one or more darker teeth, they don’t want to be told they have to wait for it to fall out on its own, or worse — that their permanent adult tooth will always be discolored. They want to have a brilliant smile.
Reasons to Whiten Kids’ Teeth
There are actually many good reasons a child might have a tooth or several teeth of a different color from the rest of their teeth:
- They grow in that way. Both baby teeth and adult teeth can grow in with enamel that’s not fully or properly formed. This is a permanent condition, and without the enamel to protect the tooth, it’s vulnerable to whatever your children eat and drink. So no matter how much they brush and floss, there’s a noticeable difference in color between the enameled part of the tooth and the non-enameled part of the tooth.
- An injury to the mouth. Mouth injuries in children are fairly common. When something hits the mouth or when the child falls and the brunt of the impact is on the mouth, it can kill a tooth’s root, causing it to become gray or even black. If this is a baby tooth, your dentist may pull it. If it’s an adult tooth, the dentist may look to other treatments to make the tooth more aesthetically pleasing.
- A side effect of certain medications. Some antibiotics and other drugs can cause tooth discoloration and staining. Ask your dentist about which drugs can stain teeth.
- Infections can cause discoloration of teeth. If your children have ever had an infection in a tooth, it can leave stains behind.
- When braces are removed. If your children wore braces and had them removed recently, there may be white spots where the brackets used to be. Usually, this fades after several cleanings, assisted by regular brushing and flossing. Some teens prefer to have their teeth whitened within a few weeks of having their braces removed.
- Stained by their diet. The foods and beverages your children consume can also lead to discoloration that’s hard to remove at home.
- Poor oral hygiene. If your child isn’t brushing and flossing regularly, it can lead to a yellowing of the teeth. Poor oral hygiene an lead to worse consequences, as well.
- Too much fluoride. Swallowing too much fluoride while your children’s teeth are still forming can result in yellowing teeth. This is irreversible and permanent without a professional aesthetic treatment.
Choices in Teeth Whitening
Your dentist may recommend that you wait until all your children’s adult teeth are in before trying teeth whitening. Otherwise, the baby teeth are nice and white, while new adult teeth aren’t, defeating the purpose of teeth whitening in the first place. Most children have all their adult teeth by about age 12.
Once you decide to whiten your child’s teeth, professional whitening is the way to go for several reasons:
- If you use a over-the-counter tooth whitening kit, you may never know what caused the discoloration in the first place. Going to a dentist means your child can have a professional examination to discover the cause of the problem. Sometimes, the best course of action is stain prevention.
- Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits typically takes several treatments. If your children’s dentist in JC does the treatment, you are guaranteed they’ll be done properly. Children and teens are notorious for their lack of follow-through when it comes to completing treatments.
- Some teeth whitening agents can be fine for your teeth, but a little harsh on soft sensitive gums. Kids may be less than careful about keeping the whitening product away from their gums. For this reason, a professional treatment can protect your kids’ gum health.
- Professional teeth whitening treatments also show results sooner than at over-the-counter aesthetic treatments.
The Waiting Game
Before you choose and begin a professional treatment, your kids dentist in JC may recommend that your child brush with a tooth desensitizing toothpaste for a few weeks. Most of the treatments have the side effect of causing tooth sensitivity and brushing with desensitizing toothpaste ahead of time can minimize that side effect.
Be aware that most insurance companies do not cover bleaching treatments since they consider it an aesthetic treatment. Talk to your dentist for specific costs. There are three basic options for teeth whitening:
- In-office vital bleaching. This is the most expensive procedure, but it offers the fastest results. Results are immediate. Here is what your child can expect:
- Your dentist covers your kid’s gums, usually something made of rubber or gel, so that the teeth whitening product doesn’t get on the gums.
- The dentist puts the bleaching agent directly on the teeth.
- A special heat light is used on the teeth to speed up the bleaching process.
- Overnight vital bleaching. This treatment is not actually worn overnight, but it’s a system prepped by your dentist for your child to take home and use with minimal fuss. The process includes:
- Your dentist takes an impression of your child’s teeth and creates a clear plastic tray that perfectly fits the mouth. These trays are specially made to keep the whitening for kids agent away from the gums.
- You’ll take home a gel with a small dispensing tip in a tube. You put the gel into the tray, and your child wears the tray for about 30 minutes, twice daily. Treatment time is usually about two weeks. Your child’s teeth continue to whiten as time goes on, after treatment is finished, as long as they keep up with brushing their teeth.
- This process keeps teeth white for six to 12 months, sometimes longer.
- As with all tooth whitening for kids, this bleaching causes tooth sensitivity in 55 to 75 percent of cases.
- Whitening Strips. This is the cheapest option. These over-the-counter strips require more adult supervision to make sure the strips are being put on properly and used according to the directions. Your kids dentist in JC can recommend specific brands.