Parents often ask about tooth whitening for their children. Is it safe? Is there a minimum age? Here are some things parents should consider if there is concern about a child’s not-so-white teeth.

Wait for adult teeth

Because primary (baby) teeth are temporary, professional treatment to remove stains is not necessary. If your child has discoloration of a primary tooth, consult with a dentist to determine the cause. This will help to identify any concerns beyond the cosmetic – like a poor diet or disease. Baby teeth fall out as permanent teeth grow in, so wait for any whitening treatment until your child has most, or all, of his or her adult teeth.

Do not use home tooth whitening on younger children

Because of a lack of research, the AAPD does not support use of at-home treatments (like white strips) for children under age 15. While not necessarily proven unsafe, there is simply not enough material to support that strips are safe on young teeth. User error and percentage of hydrogen peroxide are concerns that need more research. At-home whitening products are considered safe for older teens and adults.

Tooth sensitivity causes discomfort

Children may not like the discomfort that can come from tooth whitening treatments. Studies are not definitive on whether child sensitivity is more or less severe. However, it is a side effect to consider for baby teeth.

Parents should contact their dentist with any specific questions or concerns. There is no set age for tooth whitening, but the dentist will be able to evaluate and help create a plan.