Most teen girls are quite concerned with their looks and often spend hours trying to achieve what they perceive to be beautiful. If your 14-year-old daughter falls into this category, she might be begging to have her teeth bleached. Before granting her permission to whiten her pearly whites, speak with her dentist about the risks associated with this treatment.
Teeth Whitening Defined
Teeth whitening is a dental procedure that helps remove stains from the surface of the teeth so they look brighter and whiter. Bleaching is one way that this goal is achieved. In-office bleaching is done at your dentist's office and requires the dentist to apply a bleaching agent to your daughter's teeth and then use a special kind of light to activate the bleach and make the teeth whiter, according to the American Dental Association. Your daughter might also be interested in an at-home bleaching procedure, which is cheaper. At-home products use a lower concentration of a bleaching agent without the use of a light.
At-home bleaching procedures can pose a risk because your daughter might apply too much of the chemical, and the chemical could also get onto her gums, tongue and other parts of her mouth. Tooth sensitivity and gum irritation are common side effects of these procedures, according to the American Dental Association. These side effects can also occur with in-office bleaching procedures. Another risk that's specific to teens is uneven color on the teeth. "USA Today" notes that a teen's teeth are still growing and emerging, and performing a whitening procedure on teeth that haven't fully emerged can leave a section of the tooth a darker color than the treated section.
When performed correctly, bleaching procedures are usually safe for teens. To play it safe, a dentist should perform the procedure or give your daughter explicit instructions about using a home treatment. Avoid businesses that don't have trained dental professionals performing the bleaching procedures. For example, large malls sometimes offer whitening stations in the corridors between stores, but they might not staff people who have been well-trained in proper application of the bleaching agents.
If your daughter's teeth are still coming in, consider putting off a bleaching procedure until her smile is complete. She might be happy with other alternatives to help keep her teeth white and sparkly in the meantime. Encourage her to use whitening toothpaste, which can remove surface stains. Look for a whitening toothpaste that has been endorsed by the American Dental Association, which is listed on the label, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation recommends. Remind your daughter to brush and floss regularly, which helps keep her teeth white and her mouth healthy.