Alex Shvartsman, D.D.S., of Long Island Center for Healthier Dentistry, shares what age is appropriate for children to begin whitening their teeth, the best over-the-counter whitening products, and how teeth whitening works.
You can allow your child
to begin whitening his teeth
with over-the-counter products
at age 14.
My tween is embarrassed because his teeth are slightly discolored. At what age is it okay to let him whiten his teeth?
I would say 12-14 is a good range to start whitening teeth. I would start the child with an over-the-counter product, and then start professional whitening at 14.
The best over-the-counter tooth whitening combination I’ve found is the Rembrandt Deeply White toothpaste and mouthwash—it has an enzyme from papaya that helps remove stains. It’s the only product on the market that contains the tooth-whitening gel inside the toothpaste and inside the rinse.
What we found is that low concentration and a longer application time is more effective in whitening teeth than a higher concentration and shorter application time. But people want quick results so a lot of dentists began offering one-hour power whitening. The problem with that procedure is it’s very ineffective—the results don’t last. And studies have shown that the one-hour power whitening can cause damage to the enamel, and it has a higher side effect of sensitivity.
All tooth-whitening products, whether they’re over-the-counter or professional, really work by using a peroxide gel. What happens is the peroxide breaks up into oxygen, and the oxygen diffuses through your teeth and whitens the inside of the tooth. Teeth have two layers, an outer clear layer called enamel and an inner layer called dentine, which is yellow. Real whitening lightens the dentine, and a lot of the over-the-counter products, except the one I mentioned, remove stains from the enamel but don’t really whiten your teeth.
Alex Shvartsman, D.D.S., of Long Island Center for Healthier Dentistry in Smithtown, has nearly 20 years of experience in whitening teeth.