Tooth whitening is done for different reasons that range from cosmetic to medical. The practice has one clear benefit; when you are done, you will have stunning white teeth. It is mostly done by adults using whitening strips, but first, one has to consult an orthodontist.
The question remains, is tooth whitening recommended, especially for children and teens? Find out about the preventive measures you can take to ensure your kid’s teeth stay white, and if teeth whitening for children is recommended.
Medical Tooth Whitening
There are instances where the staining and discoloration of the teeth can reduce the quality of life of a person. For example, where discoloration of a tooth is as a result of a nerve dying, there is a medical incentive for whitening. Moreover, there may be instances where the discoloration of the enamel and dentin are caused by circumstances such as medical treatments, injuries, illnesses, and excessive penetration of coloring substances. In such a case, teeth whitening for teens may be recommended.
How to Prevent Discoloration of Teeth
The following tips will help ensure that your child’s or teen’s teeth stay white:
- Teach them good oral hygiene practices by ensuring they brush their teeth in the morning and evening before going to bed. When brushing, they shouldn’t scrub too hard as this might harm their teeth. Also, encourage them to clean their tongue every time they brush to prevent any stains food remnants on it from transferring to their teeth.
- Beverages such as tea and coffee stain teeth. It is, therefore, recommended that they avoid consuming them as a preventive measure against discoloration.
- After consuming the beverage stated above, ensure that they brush their teeth. This removes the staining properties before they take root in the teeth.
- Replace their toothbrushes or change the heads of electric toothbrushes every 2 to 3 months. Using an old toothbrush may just transfer bacteria to their mouths.
- Encourage them to eat foods that naturally clean teeth and get rid of staining properties. The most common example is apples. Such foods should be crisp and firm for them to work. Other examples are raw carrots, popcorn, and celery. Schedule these foods at the end of meals so that the kid wouldn’t have to brush every time he eats.
- Encourage them to use salt water occasionally. Salt raises the pH of the mouth, discouraging bacteria from thriving. It also acts as a disinfectant as well. This is done by adding a bit of salt in warm water then stirring it until it dissolved. Afterward, the toothbrush should be allowed to soak in the water for a while after which it is used for brushing normally.
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Teeth Whitening for Children and Teens
While it is relatively common to find adults who whiten their teeth, lately this trend has been picked by kids who want to brighten their smiles. Now the questions remains, is tooth whitening recommended for them?
Teeth whitening for kids who have milk teeth is not advised because it is unnecessary. This is because such teeth fall out after a while, so you will just incur losses. On top of this, if you whiten permanent and milk teeth at the same time, it might cause a color disparity when the new one grows. Trying to whiten the new tooth after it grows may not work out. However, where the tooth discoloration is caused by medical issues, whitening of milk teeth can be done as an exception.
Teeth whitening for teens is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry only after they have reached the age of fourteen. There are different techniques of whitening, both homemade solutions and medical methods. The former techniques involve the use of baking soda and lemon juice paste, the application of salt, strawberry, and baking soda scrub, and utilizing coconut oil rinse, among others. A principal method used in medical whitening is professional bleaching.
An example of each of the methods is discussed below:
a) Using Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
One can choose to use hydrogen peroxide independently or with baking soda. When using it on its own, a rinse is made from it by mixing half hydrogen peroxide and half water in a glass. The mixture is then swished around one’s mouth for a while then spat. Afterward, the mouth should be rinsed using clean water. Hydrogen peroxide is antibacterial, hence it gets rid of any bad bacteria that may be causing discoloration of one’s teeth.
Alternatively, hydrogen peroxide can be used with baking soda to make a paste. This paste is then applied on the teeth to rid them of plaque, which in turn, whitens them.
The main disadvantage of these methods is that if the baking soda is used in excess, it might scrape off more than the plaque. The hydrogen peroxide has to be balanced well.
b) The Use of Whitening Toothpaste
There are over-the-counter whitening toothpaste and ones that have been recommended by orthodontists. Whitening toothpaste contains chemical agents that result in just a shade or two of lightening. Over-the-counter whitening ones are not as effective as alternatives that are prescribed by orthodontists. The former just result in a shade or two of whitening while the latter may produce impressive results, such as between three and eight shades of lightening of the teeth.
c) Professional Bleaching
This is done by one’s dental specialist. The dental team one is working with will determine the extent of discoloration and whether the patient is a suitable candidate for this type of treatment.
The procedure is simple and will first involve the use of a rubber shield to protect the gums. After this, a whitening product is applied to the teeth, using a customized tray for the mouth, one that fits like a mouth guard.
The active ingredient in the whitening product is hydrogen peroxide. It breaks down on the surface of the teeth into hydrogen and oxygen, and the latter gets into the enamel, turning the tooth into a lighter color.
Tooth whitening is done for different reasons, both cosmetic and medical. When it comes to tooth whitening for children and teens, it is important to consult an orthodontist in order to determine whether it is necessary. This is because children have fragile enamels and some negative effects caused by home methods may be irreversible.
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