Dental Advice for Sugar Lovers

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Is It Safe To Whiten Your Child's Teeth?

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A number of adults turn to teeth whitening after their teeth take on a noticeable yellow discoloration. Can you do the same for your kids? Sometimes a child's teeth may become stained and can appear to have a yellow tint, but cosmetic teeth whitening is generally not recommended for children.

Anatomical Differences

Your child's teeth have some basic anatomical differences from yours. The tooth's nerve (pulp) is at the center of the tooth, and this is surrounded by a hard tissue called dentin, which is light yellow in color. Dentin is covered with enamel, the hard outer layer of the tooth, which is relatively translucent. Dentin, when seen through translucent enamel, gives the tooth a white color—or at least it should.

A Child's Enamel

Because external tooth staining is limited to the enamel, bleaching these stains away makes the teeth look whiter. However, a child's enamel is thinner than yours. The yellow hue of the teeth may not be due to external staining, but is merely the natural appearance of their juvenile teeth. Their dental pulp is still growing too, and their adult teeth are likely to look whiter.

Poor Results

This comparatively thin enamel, coupled with a still-growing dental pulp, means a dentist will be unwilling to bleach a child's teeth. It won't deliver the desired results, as the anatomy of the tooth means that bleaching can't correct the perceived issue. But still, there are measures that your family dentistry clinic can take to help your child's teeth stay as white as possible.

Professional Cleaning

Regular dental checkups are critical for all patients, adults and children alike. Professional cleaning and polishing is a standard part of this checkup, and this process is highly effective at removing surface stains from dental enamel. Adults may find that consumption of items such as red wine, coffee, and tea can discolor their teeth, but children's teeth can be stained by things such as soda, some juices, and candies. Brushing your child's teeth will manage these discolorations (and the potential tooth decay that can arise), but a professional cleaning will remove any stains that have been absorbed into your child's enamel. 

At Home

Brushing your child's teeth shouldn't involve whitening toothpaste. These toothpastes are intended for fully-developed permanent teeth with appropriately thick outer enamel. Whitening toothpaste can be abrasive (which helps them remove stains), and this can damage juvenile teeth. Check with your dentist, but the mild whitening effect of a baking soda toothpaste should be fine.

Although a child's teeth can't be cosmetically whitened, there are ways to keep them looking their whitest and brightest. For more information, contact a family dentistry service near you.