Teeth Whitening for Children’s Teeth: Is It Safe?

Parents as well as children are disappointed when the adult teeth come in and they are yellower than the baby teeth were. The answer is yes, but with some caveats. The good news is that it doesn?t take much to whiten a child?s adult teeth.

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Hi, I’m Dr. B, practicing functional dentist for 35 years. I graduated from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA in 1987 and am a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Academy of General Dentistry (Chicago, IL), American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and Dental Board of California. I'm on a mission to empower people everywhere with the same evidence-based, easy-to-understand dental health advice that my patients get. Learn more about Dr. B
Q:

At what age can I bring in my son to get his teeth whitened? Is whitening his teeth safe at age 11?

A: This is a question I am asked often. Many parents, as well as children, are disappointed when the adult teeth come in and they are yellower than the baby teeth were. The answer is yes, but with some caveats.

The good news is that it doesn’t take much to whiten a child’s permanent (adult) teeth; they respond very quickly to whitening gel. Before whitening your child’s teeth, make sure he or she fits the following criteria:

  1. All the baby teeth are lost.
  2. All of the adult teeth are in place and not still erupting.
  3. All orthodontic treatment is complete. You don’t want to invest in whitening trays only to have them not fit anymore after braces change the placement of the teeth.

If these criteria are met, I recommend getting custom whitening trays from your dentist and whitening just fifteen minutes a day for one week and waiting one month before whitening again. Do I like to stay away from aggressive treatment for whitening children’s teeth since it’s not necessary and can be unsafe since it can damage the live tissue inside of the teeth. Children also may experience more sensitivity when whitening than adults.

Yes, it is possible to whiten your child’s teeth, but I always like to ask parents to consider the following. Who wants to whiten the child’s teeth? Is it the parent or the child? If it is the child, why is the child making that request? Sometimes whitening the teeth can be a Band-Aid for a larger self-image issue. On the other hand, a winning smile is always a confidence builder at any age. It can be a complex decision and should not be made lightly.

Mark Burhenne DDS

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