By Vishant Nath DMD
Most adults are quite aware of the opportunities for teeth whitening. From toothpastes to whitening strips to whitening treatments at the dental office, there are plenty of ways to make the smile brighter. Due to an interest in teeth whitening for younger patients, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has issued new guidelines. This article will provide information based on these guidelines.
There are numerous instances where primary (baby) teeth or permanent teeth could become discolored. Dental trauma can cause tooth discoloration. There can be irregularities in the enamel color of an infected tooth. There can also occur intrinsic discoloration and staining of teeth. A discolored tooth can lead to negative self-image, especially in the adolescent years.
Many pediatric dentists will offer in-office bleaching. In-office bleaching has many advantages. It will begin with an initial professional examination to diagnose the causes of the discoloration and address any concerns such as side effects. The dentist will also identify existing tooth restorations that are faulty or could be effected by the bleaching process.
Also with in-office bleaching there is the opportunity to use advanced technologies such as lights and lasers to enhance the treatment. Photographs and shade guides can aid in documenting the effectiveness of the treatment. The dentist can also provide physical barriers to prevent or minimize the exposure of the whitening agent to the soft tissues in the mouth. This can help to decrease the effect of irritation in these soft tissues.
Additionally, in-office bleaching provides for more rapid and stable results than can be guaranteed with at-home bleaching.
If at-home bleaching is preferred, your dentist can assist by fabricating a custom-bleaching tray. The customized tray can help to ensure optimum fit and greater efficiency of bleaching agents.
All of these methods of teeth bleaching have been deemed safe for children. The most common side effects are tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. Both are usually temporary and disappear at the end of the bleaching treatment. It’s also important to note that tooth whitening is often not a permanent fix. Depending on what caused the discoloration originally, it can return over time.
Teeth whitening offers another way to improve the look of your child’s smile. It may not be for everyone, but it’s an important tool to keep in mind. Talk with your dentist to find out more about teeth whitening!