Parents of tweens and teens know that once their children reach a certain age, image is everything. Children can become very concerned about their appearance during this stage of life, and any perceived imperfection – like dull or yellowed teeth – may seem like a catastrophe to your child. But should you allow your teens or tweens to have their teeth whitened? Take a look at some things that you should know about children and tooth-whitening.
Avoid Unprofessional Whitening
These days, you can find tooth whitening treatments offered in beauty salons or kiosks at your local mall. These may appeal to teens looking for bleaching treatments because they're located in convenient areas, don't require an appointment, and promise dramatic results fast. But don't be fooled – while these places may offer professional-strength tooth whitening treatments, they're rarely administered by professionals, though the staff members may be dressed to make you think that they're dental professionals. Don't let a lab coat fool you into thinking you're talking to a dentist – ask to see some credentials.
The chemicals used in professional teeth whitening are caustic and could cause burns if applied incorrectly. They can also ruin your child's tooth enamel. In many cases, these whitening providers exploit a legal loophole in order to operate. Instead of putting the bleaching product in the patient's mouth, they ask the patient to insert it. That way, they're not technically administering the treatment – just providing it. It's the same reason you're allowed to buy tooth whitening treatments over the counter – but those home-use tooth whitening kits are far less potent and less likely to damage your teeth and mouth. If you do decide to allow your child to have professional-strength tooth whitening treatments, it should be from a qualified cosmetic dentist, and it's a good idea to get the dentist's OK before proceeding with even over-the-counter tooth whitening techniques.
Get a Dentist's Approval
Schedule a consultation with a cosmetic dentist before you think about booking any treatments. The dentist will probably want to confirm that your child has all of their permanent teeth before agreeing to any tooth bleaching treatments. The dentist will also make sure that your child is a good candidate for tooth whitening treatments. Any cavities, tooth sensitivity, or gum disease will need to be treated before tooth bleaching.
What's more, the dentist may be able to determine why your child's teeth aren't as white as they could be. Tooth discolorations can be caused by a number of things, from injury to reactions to antibiotics. Finding out the cause of your child's discoloration might prevent the problem from getting any worse. Once the cosmetic dentist has confirmed that your child is a good candidate for whitening, you can begin to discuss the various methods of tooth whitening to decide what's best for your child.
Know Your Options
There are a number of different options when it comes to tooth whitening. Even once your child has a dentist's approval, it's a good idea to consider all your options before deciding on a plan of action. Over-the-counter options that you can buy in the drug store may produce a less dramatic result, but they're also gentler than professional-strength treatments and may be a better choice for your child.
There are also a range of options from your dentist's office, from customized whitening trays that your child can use at home to high-powered laser treatments. Take the time to learn about the pros and cons of each option so that you can make the best choice for your tween or teen.
With the help of a good cosmetic dentist, you can help your child brighten their smile while protecting the health of their teeth.