Teeth whitening in teenagers has become very popular because everyone wants to have the best smile possible including teenagers. It is not uncommon for teens to inquire about teeth whitening options. Teeth whitening have become a multi-million dollar industry. Much of that is from drugstore kits or online do it yourself teeth whitening kits. According to the American Academy of Dentistry, parents need to be aware of the risks associated with whitening and learn about the best option to treat their teenager.
One risk of teeth whitening is nerve root shrinkage during the growth of the permanent teeth throughout the teenage years. Once the permanent teeth have fully developed the nerves begin to grow in size, which helps minimize the tooth sensitivity. Using any tooth whitening agent before the permanent teeth have fully developed puts teens at risk of slight but reparable nerve damage caused by the tooth bleaching gel. The frequency and the higher the concentration the bleaching agent, the more brittle the tooth and nerves can become. The bleach in the products can also cause gum irritation and pain. To avoid any potential gum damage it is important to reduce the number of bleaching chemicals on the gums. Custom-made bleaching trays ordered from a dentist’s office could minimize the contact between the gums and the bleaching agent and lessen the chance for irritation. The American Academy of General Dentistry recommends not to use any whitening products until the age of 14 and to discuss with your dentist the best option for your child.
Types of Teeth Whitening Products
For a brighter smile, there are two options available: At home kits and products or professional grade bleaching gels and trays fitted by our office. Both options use a peroxide-based bleaching agent. The at home or over the counter kits contain 3%-20% peroxide (carbide or hydrogen peroxides). In office systems will contain 15%-43% peroxide.
The longer the solution is kept on the teeth, the whiter the teeth will become. However, the higher the percentage of hydrogen peroxide in the solution, the shorter it should be applied to the teeth. Keeping the gel on too long can cause the tooth to become dehydrated and increase tooth sensitivity.
There are many over the counter options available for bleaching the teeth at home. The most common include:
- Tooth whitening strips and gels: These are applied directly to the teeth with a brush or thin strip. This type of product needs to be applied 1-2 times a day for 2 weeks. At-home kits are not customized to each patient. This can result in trays and strips that do not fit properly, which in turn can cause severe irritation of the gums and sensitivity to the teeth. Discuss with Dr. Rubin before using any over the counter bleaching solution.
- Tooth whitening toothpaste: All toothpaste help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. “Whitening” toothpaste have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Some whitening toothpaste contain peroxides, but they aren’t left on the teeth long enough to have a whitening benefit. Unlike bleaches, these products do not alter the intrinsic color of teeth.
- Custom made dental trays and professional strength whitening gels: We offer at-home teeth whitening to our patients that are ages sixteen and up. Dr. Rubin will meet with you and your teen and discuss the process. Custom whitening trays will be made for your teen, ensuring the treatment is personalized and will yield amazing results. Proper whitening depends upon the use of a custom-made bleaching tray, which only a dentist can properly fit. We will also supply them with a professional grade whitening gel and teach them the proper way to use the product. All they have to do is fill the whitening trays with the gel, and wear the tray every day for a specific amount of time. Over the course of about two weeks, your teen’s smile will be noticeably whiter, and they will have the confidence to be outgoing with the people around them!
Tips on keeping teeth bright and white:
- Floss and brush daily
- Avoid nicotine, soda, tea, and coffee, which stain teeth
- If you do drink soda or coffee, use a straw to prevent discoloration of the upper front teeth or brush after consuming these beverages
- Clean teeth carefully, especially if you wear braces. Food particles can become trapped between the braces and teeth, causing discoloration as well as cavities