Downsides of Teens Turning to Over-the-counter Teeth Whitening Kits

11 Sep

TV Commercials for Teeth Whitening Kits don’t tall the whole story

With the rise of selfies and peer pressure to look camera-ready at all times, is it any wonder that teens are turning to over-the-counter (OTC) teeth whitening kits to achieve that perfectly brilliant smile? However, what should concern parents is that these options are not necessarily in their teen’s best overall health interests.

Balancing Self-Esteem with Safety

While many people who use OTC teeth whitening products have success, what we need to look at is the potential risk versus reward, especially when it comes to using it on our kids. With a formula that includes up to 13% hydrogen peroxide, these whitening kits have the user wear it for anywhere between 15 and 60 minutes. While our adult teeth are more forgiving, this exposure can lead to many side effects for a younger mouth. It is important to understand the potential risks involved before allowing a child to whiten their teeth at home, including:

User Error in Placement: These kits are a one-size fits all option and, unlike the custom trays you’d get at your dental office, will not fit perfectly. This could have the hydrogen peroxide being applied to other areas of the mouth outside of the teeth, as well as leaking constantly out of the tray and into the mouth resulting in swallowing most of the whitening paste.

User Error in Duration: Here’s what the average teen might be thinking… if the package says 30 minutes, just think of how white my teeth will be if I leave the tray in for 60 minutes. Right? As a family dental clinic we have seen this so often (and not just with kids, but adults who should know better), but longer is definitely not better and can do more harm than good.

Leakage: Because the trays are not custom fit, there are more opportunities for the hydrogen peroxide to leak out of the tray only to be swallowed by the user. That might just be the best reason to stay away right there.

Damaging chemicals: Some over-the-counter whitening kits contain etchants which creates “holes” in enamel and then add white particles that fill in those holes to give you that “whiter” effect. The problem is that the white filler particles will eventually fall out and leave your tooth more prone to decay due to the porous nature of the remaining enamel. Very often people will then try to “whiten” again, making the situation worse and creating a domino effect of increasing enamel damage and irreversible tooth destruction.

Tooth Sensitivity: Approximately 2 in 3 users will experience tooth sensitivity with teeth whitening. The sensitivity could be heightened if a cavity is present in one or more of the teeth. Your dentist will ensure that your teeth are in good order to receive the whitening treatment and then manage any sensitivity with techniques only available to them.

Better Options for Teeth Whitening Other Than Teeth Whitening Kits

The truth is that adult teeth just aren’t as white as baby teeth, but with some care, you can limit the levels of discolouration and staining your teen experiences. Your first line of defence should always include a holistic diet that is free from damaging dyes and chemicals that ultimately discolour the teeth. Stay away from coffee, sodas and anything with harsh dyes, such as popsicles. Choosing natural foods that support not only strong teeth, but your overall health is the best prevention possible. You may naturally think of apples and celery, but here’s one… did you know that strawberries contain an enzyme known as malic acid, which naturally makes teeth whiter? Interesting, right?

If your teen’s teeth are noticeably yellow and affecting his or her self-esteem, talk about in-office whitening techniques, such as Zoom, with Dr. Bis. With precise control and custom application of the whitening product as well as precise application of a protective layer over any gum tissue, dental whitening treatments are more effective, extremely safe, faster and generally have fewer or no side effects at all.

If the stains are deep set and/or there is a medical reason that Dr. Bis suggests not using a whitening process, she can discuss porcelain veneers with you. Porcelain veneers are a thin layer that is adhered directly to the tooth or teeth, strengthening the teeth and correcting any imperfections, including discolouration.

If you would like improve your dental habits or learn more about our approach to holistic dentistry and/or cosmetic dentistry in Oakville, get in touch with Oakville Dentist, Dr. Agatha Bis and her team by calling 905.338.6684 or by completing the form below.

Dr. Agatha Bis Dentistry is located in Oakville Ontario and helps patients from Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Mississauga and Toronto with their holistic and cosmetic dental needs.

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