Teens: Want a Brighter Smile? Visit the Dentist, not the Shopping Mall
Although teeth whitening may be one of the safest, non-invasive and cost-efficient ways for teens to immediately boost their appearance, parents should learn about the best whitening options for their adolescent, reports the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing education.
Teeth whitening is a multi-million dollar industry that is partly fueled by image-conscious teens heading to the mall to pick up instant, do-it-yourself teeth whitening kits, many of which are heavily marketed and are not dentist-supervised.
"Teens should visit their dentist instead of the mall for a healthy, white smile," says AGD spokesperson Manuel Cordero, DDS, MAGD, who has seen a steady increase in his teen patients' requests for this procedure.
Proper whitening depends upon the use of a custom-made bleaching tray, which only a dentist can properly fit. Some Internet companies sell the materials that allow consumers to make their own whitening tray. But only dentists can assure the proper use of these materials. Without supervision and expertise, these materials can cause damage to existing dental work. As with any dental procedure, whitening should always be done under the supervision of a dentist.
Tips for teens and their parents on tooth whitening:
According to Dr. Cordero, teens should wait for whitening procedures until at least the age of 14. At this time, the tooth's pulp is fully formed, which means the teen will experience less sensitivity.
Drink soda and coffee through a straw to prevent discoloration of the upper, front teeth. Wearing braces? Brush and clean teeth meticulously because food and their bi-products can discolor teeth as well as create cavities.
Updated: February 2007