You might be worried if you notice that your child’s shining white teeth have become yellow or discolored. While many adults whiten their teeth with over-the-counter whitening products, this form of treatment is not recommended for young mouths.
We’ll go over some of the unique characteristics of baby teeth, why whitening treatments could be harmful, and what you can do to help keep your child’s teeth clean.
Baby Teeth versus Adult Teeth
Baby teeth have thinner, whiter enamel than adult teeth. They appear brighter because they are more calcified. As your child’s adult teeth grow in, they will appear more yellow than his or her baby teeth. Unusual discoloration can be caused by injuries, decay, or dietary choices. If you’re frustrated about the color of your child’s teeth, over-the-counter whitening treatments are not a solution.
How Whitening Works
Whitening treatments use hydrogen peroxide to work away stains on your teeth. The user instructions will tell you how long to leave on whitening trays, usually between 15 and 60 minutes. Bleaches used in whitening treatments can wear down the enamel of your teeth, exposing the sensitive layer of dentin underneath. This causes tooth sensitivity (pain caused by hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods or beverages), which usually goes away after a while, as long as you are not continually overusing whitening products.
Why Whitening Products are Not Recommended for Children
There is no sufficient research to prove that whitening treatments are not harmful to children under the age of 15. Most companies like Crest do not recommend their whitening products for children less than 12 years old.
When using at-home whitening products, you must be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Children are not always able to understand the risks of leaving on whitening trays in for too long, which will damage tooth enamel and irritate gums.
Children are also more likely to swallow when using dental products, which can be very hazardous when using whitening chemicals. If you insist on having your child’s teeth whitened, it’s best to discuss your options with your dentist, considering clinical treatment if he or she recommends it.
Causes of Dark or Discolored Baby Teeth
Teeth can become darkened or discolored from diet, decay, or injury. If you notice that your child’s tooth is dark or has white spots, you should have the dentist check to see if the tooth is healthy.
Dark teeth are often caused by bleeding inside the tooth. This is usually caused by an injury while playing sports or hitting the tooth on a hard surface. In this case, you should bring your child to the dentist’s office to assess the injury.
Vitamins and medication can discolor your child’s teeth if they are high in iron. If you have taken the antibiotic tetracycline, either during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it may have affected the color of your child’s teeth.
Weak enamel is a genetic condition that makes teeth appear darker.
Fluorosis is a condition resulting from overconsumption of fluoride. You may notice white lines or streaks on your child’s teeth if you have been giving him or her formula from powder or a liquid concentrate mixed with fluoridated water.
Diet has a considerable impact on the color of your child’s teeth. If your child drinks a lot of sugary beverages or eats artificially-colored foods, you may notice that his or her teeth appear more yellow.
Solutions for Whiter Teeth
Using proper dental hygiene and maintaining a healthy diet are the best ways to keep teeth bright and shiny. Encourage your child to get into the routine of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Diet has a significant impact on the color of his or her teeth, so try to avoid dark-colored beverages like soda and certain juices.
Some natural foods with dark pigments may also cause stains, such as beets, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, or tomato sauce. You might consider limiting these foods if you’re trying to fight against stains.
With very young children, you start brushing right away. As soon as your child’s first tooth has grown in, you should brush his or her tooth with an infant toothbrush, using a small bit of toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice. You should also wipe your child’s gums with a soft cloth after feedings. This will limit decay, keeping your child’s teeth healthy from the start.
Older children might be able to consider whitening treatments after all of their adult teeth have grown in. This treatment is not recommended for those under 15 years of age. Make sure that your child knows the risks of whitening treatments and that he or she follows the instructions properly.