Teeth Whitening in Adolescence

Adolescents laughingAs dentistry techniques have improved over the years, movie star smiles have become more and more attainable for practically everyone. And a big part of having the right smile is having those coveted pearly whites. It might sound a little odd to recommend teeth whitening for teens, but the procedure can be a safe way to boost their confidence.

And far beyond the aesthetic benefits, parents also have an opportunity to help their kids develop a more active interest in their dental health — a priceless benefit that will last long after the whitening procedure is complete.

The Reality

The teens of today aren’t necessarily asking their dentist or even their parents about teeth whitening. They’re seeing commercials and then heading online to buy kits or strips that claim to give them the bright smile they’ve always wanted. But teens really should be consulting with a dental professional if they’re hoping to get the best results.

Not only is it possible for them to buy an inferior product, but even legitimate whiteners can potentially aggravate the teeth or gums or potentially even damage fillings. Experts typically won’t even consider whitening until at least the age of 14 (some will go as late as 16) so they can be certain that the pulp of the tooth is fully formed.

Types of Stains

There are two major types of stains:

  • External: These stains are generally caused by common culprits, like cranberry juice, pasta sauce, balsamic vinegar, and coffee. And if teens do happen to be smoking or drinking, this could definitely have a major effect on their coloring.
  • Internal: Things like trauma or tooth disorders can cause the tooth to be darkened from the inside out. Certain kinds of antibiotics can also stain the teeth, and even too much fluoride can do the trick.

As you might imagine, it’s easier to get rid of the more cosmetic stains. It’s also easier to prevent external stains too after the teeth whitening is complete. Intrinsic staining may require a more sophisticated healthcare plan, one that’s a little more complicated than using a straw when drinking dark-colored beverages.

Taking an Interest

Even if your teenager had perfect dental health and hygiene, the tissue inside the tooth is designed to become yellow over time. That yellowness is covered by the enamel, but aging is a bit of a double whammy in that your enamel will become thinner over time too.

A teenager could easily start off just wanting to improve their smile, but taking them to see a dental professional could open them up to information like this. If you can attach health to something they really care about — looking a little better — you have a better chance of instilling good habits now.

Teaching adolescents about how their teeth will behave over time is a key part of the whitening process. To prevent teens from using the wrong methods, call Parke & Rogers Dentistry to learn more about how we can help.