White Strips for Teeth: Safe for Kids and Teens?

If your child's teeth are looking less than pearly white, it might be tempting to whiten them in the same way you do yours: with whitening strips. But before you apply those strips to your child's teeth, you should learn a little more about how they work and the possible side effects of applying them on kids. You might use these strips perfectly, but a child may not have the same abilities. Understanding the risks and what the experts say might encourage you to think twice about letting your child use white strips for teeth-bleaching purposes.

Hydrogen Peroxide

White strips work by coating the teeth in a hydrogen peroxide solution for anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes, depending on package's directions. It's no big deal, right? For kids, the answer may not be so simple. Hydrogen peroxide in low concentrations is typically safe in adult products, but these at-home bleaching products have up to a 13-percent hydrogen peroxide concentration, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). The higher the concentration, the greater chance that bleaching products can have an adverse affect on your child.

Lack of Clear Data

White strips for teeth are discouraged for kids and teens for a few reasons. A lack of studies is major concern for the AAPD: there's simply not enough material to support that strips are safe on young teeth. Without that concrete evidence, the AAPD cannot make a satisfactory ruling that they are indeed safe for little mouths.

User Error

Adults can be trusted to read instructions, understand risk and use white strips for teeth carefully and properly. Unfortunately, the AAPD found a high rate of user error when kids used white strips themselves. This includes leaving the strips on for much longer than instructed. Add that to the risk of swallowing the product, and bleaching your child's teeth at home could be hazardous.

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is another risk. Even adults know that a high concentration of bleaching agents, when left on the teeth for a long period of time, can lead to significant tooth sensitivity. Although studies aren't clear on whether child sensitivity is more or less severe, it's a side effect to consider for baby teeth.

Alternatives

The AAPD's official position is that because of a lack of research, whitening strips aren't safe for kids and teens under the age of 15. But that doesn't mean your child has to live with dull-colored teeth. Instead, good hygiene and the right products can help polish those teeth until they gleam – no bleach necessary. Avoiding foods and drinks that can stain teeth, such as soda, can help them retain a whiter smile, and don't forget to brush twice daily too. Regular brushing with products like Colgate® Fresh n' Protect Toothpaste can help banish plaque and stains that cause yellowed teeth and produce a brighter, whiter and more confident grin in kids.

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