Whiter teeth have flashed across the scene as a standard of health and beauty.  In Part I of our coverage, on the youthful pursuit of whiter teeth, Dentistry for Children addressed the issue of tooth whitening.  You might have noticed the trend of whitening, brightening and bleaching teeth has sky-rocketed in the past twenty years.  To learn all the facts of this fad, you might want to check out that previous article before continuing with this blog.

Whiter teeth mitigate criticism from friends and peer groups.

Whiter teeth overcome the social pressure to meet teen beauty standards.

First of all, for you or your child, let us remind you that the American Dental Association (ADA) and the America Pediatric Dental Association advises you to consult with your dentist before you buy a an over-the-counter bleaching product.  There are important reasons for this:

1.      One reason you should consult with us before your child pursues whiter teeth with a tooth whitening product is that it might not match with other current or planned dental repairs such as crowns, bridges, and fillings.

2.     Another important reason for the precaution of a dental consultation is to check for underlying issues that might have caused staining or discoloration and require more appropriate treatment.  This is especially important for children with extremely dark stains. Likewise, you have the advantage of the dentist’s educational expertise should he find staining that bleaching won’t be able to help.

Only after meticulous oral examination will Dr. Troy King at Dentistry for Children advise you to allow your child to bleach his or her teeth.

Prioritizing Healthier Teeth before Whiter Teeth

Let’s make your child’s teeth healthier before we make them whiter.  His advice will be very individualized, depending on the health and condition of your child’s teeth.  He strongly suggests you supervise the purchase and use of a bleaching product.  In fact, the doctor has a small device he recommends for at home use.  Sometimes Dr. King recommends the device only as augmentation after his initial chair-side whitening treatment.

Tooth whitening is definitely a decision to be made between parent, patient and dentist.  Strong healthy teeth should be the first focus and whiter teeth should come second.

Reasons Whiter Teeth Might Not Work for Your Child

We always hate to see the disappointment on a child’s face.  However, whiter teeth do not automatically occur with whitening treatments.  And there are many reasons.

Whiter teeth result in more confident smiles on school picture day.

Whiter teeth and high school pictures go together stylishly.

This fact just underscores the importance of seeing a dentist before allowing your child to try whitening products.  Whiteners do not improve all types of discoloration.  Parents need to prepare their children for this fact and avoid the promises on stylish advertising.

The ADA list facts that may limit effectiveness:

1. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well.

2. Brown teeth might not respond as well.

3.  Grayish-toned teeth do not take bleaching at all.

4. Whiter teeth will not happen if you have previous veneers, crowns or fillings.

Deep-Colored Drinks Can Cause Deep Stains

Likewise, deeply stained teeth from tea or cola will not react well to the bleach.  The dark-colored pigments in these drinks are called chromogens.  They clamp onto your child’s enamel and do not let go.  Here’s one of many reasons to teach your child to avoid cola drinks.

Trauma and Stained Teeth

If your child has been hit in the mouth or involved in an automobile crash, the blow might have caused discoloration to one or several of your child’s teeth.  The stained appearance happens simply because teeth react to trauma by creating more dentin, the darker layer under the enamel.  The good news is that this condition is harmless.  Nevertheless, bleaching them will be ineffective.

Discoloration from Medications

Some antihistamines, antipsychotics, blood pressure medications and antibiotics can discolor teeth.  This is a medication side effect that cannot be corrected by bleaching.  Additionally, “Young children who are exposed to antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline, when their teeth are forming (either in the womb or as a baby) may have discoloration of their adult teeth later in life.”

Thus the issue of whiter teeth is not always as easy as buying a new cosmetic.  Your child’s teeth might not respond to the treatment at all.

Whiter, shinier teeth from professional whitening bring your child confidence.

Whiter, brighter, shining teeth might bring your child more confidence.

Your child might risk gum irritation and over-sensitizing teeth, not to mention your hard-earned dollars–and still be unable to attain whiter teeth.  For more information about tooth whitening, Dentistry for Children recommends the complete guide found at the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry online resource.

In our next blog, Part 3 of this series on tooth-whitening, we will take you step-by-step through the tooth-whitening technique used by dentists.We assure you that professional “chair-side” whitening treatment is much more effective. Professional treatments under a dentist’s guidance also carry less risk than home use kits or unsupervised products. We are sure you will prefer your dentist’s whitening treatment to the type of whitening found at mall beauty salons.

One thing is very certain about whiter teeth—your child can not achieve them without regular brushing, flossing and visits to the pediatric dentist.