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Children and Teeth Whitening Treatment - Is It Worth the Risk?

Children and Teeth Whitening Treatment - Is It Worth the Risk?


In the summer of 2007, US Weekly reported that Britney Spears had asked a Los Angeles-area dentist to whiten her toddler son's teeth. Her child, Sean Preston, was almost two years old at the time.

The magazine claimed that the dentist Spears consulted refused to perform treatment on the child, and then berated the star for feeding her children junk food and sugary drinks.

Professional Teeth Whitening in Children - Is It Safe?

According to policy guidelines developed by the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, the majority of testing to gauge the safety of teeth bleaching has been done on adults, not children or teenagers. However, the AAPD encourages:

1. The judicious use of bleaching for vital and non-vital teeth

2. Patients to consult their dentists to determine appropriate methods for and the timing of dental whitening within the context of an individualized, comprehensive, and sequenced treatment plan

3. Dental professionals and consumers to consider side effects when contemplating dental bleaching for child and adolescent patients

4. Further research of dental whitening agents in children

-         Policy on Dental Bleaching for Child and Adolescent Patients, American Society of Pediatric Dentistry, 2004

Consult an Expert

Parents interested in having their child's teeth professionally whitened should always consult a qualified dentist prior to treatment; a dentist can examine your child's teeth and gums to determine whether teeth whitening will cause increased sensitivity or permanent damage.

Parents should know that it is normal for children's baby teeth to be whiter than their adult teeth, though some parents and children may find the discoloration to be embarrassing. It is important to remember that the difference in color should no longer be noticeable once all baby teeth have been lost.

Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening and Children

Most over-the-counter teeth whitening systems are not recommend for use on children under the age of 12. These systems include whitening strips, pens, and gels with mouth guards.

However, many whitening toothpastes, mouth rinses, flosses, and gums can be used by children. Be sure to check each whitening product's label to determine whether it is appropriate for use on children.

Help Your Child Maintain Healthy, White Teeth

Rather than focusing on quick teeth whitening treatments that could cause damage to your child's teeth, you may want to consider making some changes to you and your child's eating habits to prevent teeth from becoming yellowed or stained.

Foods and drinks you and your child should avoid:

  • Sodas
  • Sugary fruit drinks
  • Candy and other junk food
  • Soy sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Cranberry juice
  • Dark grape juice
  • Tomato sauce

To promote good oral health, make sure your child brushes and flosses his or her teeth on a regular basis. Use toothpastes and mouthwashes with fluoride to prevent tooth decay and cavities. And don't forget to schedule dental exams for your child every six months.

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