Are Children Having Teeth Whitening Done?

Are you seeing cases where either kids or their parents are asking for teeth whitening? Or, have you heard of this being done at other practices? Is it safe?

Doctor Answers 8

What Age Is Safe To Whiten Children's Teeth?

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With the increased popularity of teeth whitening over the past five years, the procedure is commonly being requested by the parents of children as young as eight years old.  What are the most frequently asked questions when requesting this procedure on children?

Q: What age is safe to begin the bleaching process in children?

A:  Bleaching is completely safe and there is no harmful damage to the enamel.  In my practice, I like to wait until the child has all of their permanent teeth erupted before whitening.  Typically, all of these have erupted by 11 or 12 years of age.  That being said, I would have no problem whitening the teeth of a child as young as eight years old if they were self conscience due to the comments of other kids at school about the color of their teeth.  

Q:  Can I use over -the -counter products to whiten my child's teeth?

A:   Teeth whitening should always be performed by a dentist whether it is "laser whitening" or the use of bleaching trays.  These procedures are technique sensitive and when not performed correctly can cause irritation of the gums that can be quite painful. 

Q:  Will the teeth be sensitive after whitening?

A:  Most of the time the patient will have sensitivity when doing ”laser whitening" for 8-10 hours following the procedure.  There is not as much sensitivity when using bleaching trays alone, but the results are not as drastic. The underlying nerves in the teeth of children are larger than adults.  This can cause increased teeth sensitivity in children for the first 24 hours following the procedure.    

 Q:  How much does teeth whitening cost and how long does it take?

A:  Zoom laser whitening or other similar products range from $400-800 depending on where you live and whether or not bleaching trays are included with the fee.  The procedure takes approximately two hours in the office.  Following this, the patient will be asked to use the trays for several nights for about an hour each time. 

The safety of bleaching in children has been proven to be safe and the results for some children can be life changing.  If you are wondering whether your child is a candidate for the procedure contact your dentist and ask for a consultation.  They will give you an honest answer that will allow you to make the best decision for your child.  Hope this helps!


Teeth whitening for kids and teenagers

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Everybody wants a white smile, it`s part of building the positive successful image. We don`t see kids in our practice. Usually the teenagers after 14-17 yrs old after they are completely finished with their orthodontic treatment and wisdom teeth extractions can request the teeth whitening. It is not recommended to whiten the teeth before the enamel of the permanent teeth is completely mature, what takes 2-3 years after the original eruption. I whitened my son`s teeth when he was 12-13. 

Are Children Having Teeth Whitening Done?

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Teeth whitening has come a long way over more than twenty years. Initially we were concerned that the chemicals used to whiten teeth would cause some sort of permanent damage to teeth. Nothing is farther from the truth. Many people have whitened their teeth without serious concerns, in fact teeth whitening has become one of the most popular cosmetic trends (as demonstrated in all of the Over-The-Counter teeth whitening products and myriad toothpaste formulations).

Doing cosmetic dentistry for children always strikes some controversy. In my opinion, that's more voodoo than science. In general children CAN have teeth whitening at an early age. In my opinion a child COULD have teeth whitening done even at age 11, depending upon how their teeth are growing in. As with any kids that age, the cooperation needed to actually complete the whitening depends a lot on the individual child and the overall supervision of the parents.

Candidly, I do not get many requests for teeth whitening for young kids. Rather, mostly for young adults who often want to whiten after they finish their braces or teeth straightening. 

For young children the main aesthetic treatments typically are bonding to fix chips in front teeth, or to close up unattractive spaces.

In terms of techniques, there are two that can be useful: one, professional tray whitening done at home, and two, in-office professional whitening. Either technique depends a lot on the child's maturity to help out with the process.

In summary, I do not see a strong trend for child teeth whitening. I believe it CAN be done safely for even young children (say 10-12 years old). There are at least two different techniques that can produce the results. In some cases, a child could have it done at even a younger age, to just treat the front part of their smile.

I have worked with the media before and would be able to provide you with a very strong interview if you need more information.

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Teeth Whitening in Chlidren

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As long as we are talking about whitening permanent "adult" teeth the age of the patient is not critical.  In all likelihood we are talking about 8 years old and up, as this is the average age for having enough permanent teeth to even consider whitening. Having said that, common sense and professional ethics dictates we make well informed decisions prior to treating any patient.  A child actress, singer or bullied child may very well be a candidate for whitening.  On the other hand, the child of a parent who is unrealistic in what a "normal" childhood smile looks like would not.  I have personally recommended the OTC whitening  (crest white-strips) to a 10 year old child actress, who felt that her brown stained front teeth was hurting her chances in auditions.  I am comfortable with my decision and would not hesitate to pursue more aggressive bleaching options if she and her family desire.  The discussion at a young age whether to whiten usually concerns the discrepancy between a child's baby teeth and adult teeth.  Adult teeth are much darker and it can be dramatic difference for a first time parent.  What the parent is usually asking is really "is my child's smile normal?"  Once you reassure parents that yes, this is a normal transition period, and lets re-evaluate once all the adult teeth come in, most parents thank you and the issue is put aside for many years.  Hope this helps.

Madeleinne Zapantis, DMD
Long Island Dentist

Helping Children Who Could Benefit from Whitening

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Usually children are content with their smile and don't even think about whitening.  However, I have had some special situations which have called for action.  One child in particular was being teased becasue she had brown spots on her new front teeth.  (Age 6)  I suggested trying Crest Whitening Strips from the drug store, cut in half so they just fit over  the 2 front teeth. The parents did  this until all the Crest Whitening Strips were used.  The results were great becasue Crest Whitening seems to be very effective in taking out brown discoloration on the younger generation.  My biggest issue is when parents are worried about color differences between the baby teeth and permanent teeth and discuss it in front of the child.  Baby teeth are often whiter than the new permanent teeth resulting in  a color difference. I always ask if the child is conscience about their smile.  Sometimes the parents cause the child to be upset and concerned about the color difference.  As a routine, I like chldren to wait to whiten until after having orthodontic treatement or all of their permanent teeth have errupted-I explain this to all parents.  As with all treatment, there are exceptions and it is up to the dentist to discuss what they recommend.

Wendy S. Spektor, DDS
Bellevue Dentist

Are Children Having Teeth Whitening Done?

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You will probably find major differences of opinion when it comes to teeth whitening for children.  Thousands of whitening studies have been performed over the last couple of decades.  These studies have one conclusion in common.  Professional whitening (when performed using ADA/FDA-approved professional systems under the supervision of a dentist -- and using the system just as directed) will not damage healthy permanent teeth.  This means that children (who have their permanent teeth) CAN safely whiten their teeth.  The clinical answer is just that simple.
However, this topic certainly opens the floor for discussion regarding the social, psychological, and emotional aspects of the subject of teeth whitening in children.  From one standpoint, why should a 12 year-old child be thinking about cosmetic enhancements at such a young age?  On the other hand, will the child with dark yellow teeth be teased ("butter teeth, dirty teeth”) to the point that the child learns to stop smiling, laughing -- or starts covering his or her mouth with every laugh?  What about the child who has average teeth, but whose mom thinks the teeth need to be whiter?  Many times, parents get nervous when the first permanent teeth start to grow in because they are so much darker in color than the baby teeth.  (Remember, we used to call baby teeth "milk teeth" because they are so very white in color.  So, when the permanent teeth start growing in amidst the milk teeth, they will look much darker in contrast.)   There are so many different situations within this topic, that I believe it's impossible (and irresponsible) to have one answer across the board.
When I have a young patient (under 17 years-old) who wants whiter teeth, I first talk with the child and his or her mom or dad.  We discuss the "whys" behind the desire to whiten the teeth.  If is a situation like the aforementioned one (permanent teeth look dark growing in next to baby teeth), then we opt to wait until all of the permanent teeth are in and revisit the topic if needed in the future.  If it's a kid who is handicapped by the appearance of his or her smile, then yes, I absolutely agree with whitening teeth to improve confidence (we've been straightening teeth with braces for this reason for decades).  If I'm dealing with an over-obsessive parent, I try to find out if whitening is something the child really wants.  If it's not something the child wants, I tell them to wait until they really want to whiten. 
When we decide it's in the best interest of the child to do some whitening, then we customize the treatment based on the different needs of each patient (just like we do in adults).  The safe professional methods available are the same as those available to adults (custom trays, professional strips, and in-office whitening).
When it comes to teeth whitening in children, the clinical methods are no different than they are in adults.  However, before agreeing to do the procedure, it is important to take the time in consultation to address the "whys" behind the treatment.

Whitening children's teeth is considered safe

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The only way to prove the safety of teeth whitening is to demonstrate test patients for research studies.  However, getting pregnant women or young children to participate is both a legal and ethical challenge (ie, what if something coincidentally went wrong with a baby or child, would the whitening be blamed?).

The reality is, bleaching is safe.  The youngest I have ever done was on my own children at age 10, as most kids younger than that were simply not interested.  Most start to be concerned about their overall appearance at around age 12, so that is when most requests start.

The best methods include dentist input, as most over the counter/internet products are unregulated and unmonitored.  To be safe, dental supervision is suggested.

The minimum age for professional teeth whitening

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Teeth whitening has  become one of the most popular and performed procedure in the dental offices. Lately parents bring their childeren as young as 12 to get their teeth whitened. It is recommended that the minimum age for professional teeth whitening using laser or other activating agent to  16 years of age.

A child's deciduous teeth are generally whiter than the adult teeth that follow. As a person ages the adult teeth often become darker due to changes in the mineral structure of the tooth, as the enamel becomes less porous . due to its porosity,  one " CAN " get server sensitivity and irreversible damage during the whitening if one is younger than 16. However other factors such as the genetic make up of the teeth, as well as the biological growth of the teenager as opposed to the chronological age are also important considerations to take into account.

I usually recommend very mild strength gels and a take home kit to help with younger individuals, and if the individual is 16 and has strong teeth, I will use a in office professional whitening system for them.




Soheyla Marzvaan, DDS
Orange County Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.