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 be able to. 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.
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. In Singapore, tooth whitening products that contain concentrations of up to 6% hydrogen peroxide are not for direct sale to the general public, although they can be prescribed by a registered dental practitioner for home use by the patient. The higher the concentration, the greater the chance that these bleaching products can have an adverse effect 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 one major concern: there's simply not enough material to support that strips are safe on young teeth. Without that concrete evidence, authorities and regulatory bodies cannot make a satisfactory ruling that they are indeed safe for little mouths.
Adults can be trusted to read instructions, understand risk and use white strips for teeth carefully and properly. Unfortunately, there is 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 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.
Just because there is no data supporting the use of whitening strips, doesn't mean your child has to live with dull-coloured 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 carbonated soft drinks, can help them retain a whiter smile; and don't forget to brush twice daily too.