Wondering if your child is old enough to have his or her teeth whitened? In most cases, dentists advise against teeth whitening strips until your child's teeth are fully grown, but luckily, there are alternatives. Give your child these five items and let them enjoy a whiter, brighter smile:
1. Whitening toothpaste
If your child is frustrated by the idea of not being able to use whitening strips, invest in whitening toothpaste instead. This will help your child feel like you have listened to his or her concerns and are trying to help. Whitening toothpastes tend to be gentler than whitening strips. The paste has small abrasives in it that helps move plaque off your child's teeth to make them whiter and stronger. Whitening strips, in contrast, contain bleaches that change the intrinsic color of the tooth.
2. A straw
In addition to brushing to address potential discoloration, your child needs to avoid drinks that stain his or her teeth. Ideally, that means never drinking soda or coffee, but in reality, that can be hard to accomplish, especially with soda machines in many schools.
However, a simple straw can help. Buy your child a metal or plastic reusable straw, and have them carry it in their backpack. That way, when they want to drink something that will potentially stain their teeth, they can whip out the straw and use it. The straw moves the liquid past their front teeth and directly into the back of their mouth, helping to sidestep stains.
3. Healthy snack trays
What your child eats can also have a direct impact on how white his or her teeth look. There are a number of snacks that can help. Strawberries, a sweet favorite of many kids, features malic acid, a natural whitener. A bowl of baby carrots or even some long carrots fresh from the garden can also help with oral health. As your child crunches through this snack, the carrot breaks into little pieces, which essentially work the same as abrasives in toothpaste -- they agitate the plaque off the teeth.
Finally, do not forget the cheese. Slices of gouda, grilled gouda sandwiches and anything else featuring gouda is good for the teeth. Named after a town in the Netherlands, this particular type of cheese has high quantities of lactic acid which helps to fight stains on teeth.
Even kids who love strawberries and cheese platters occasionally want to dive into sticky, sweet cakes and candies. Ideally, after eating anything sweet, your child will immediately find a sink and brush his or her teeth. However, that isn't always possible.
To help your child remove these sticky sweets so that they don't linger, form plaque and ultimately discoloration, give them some gum. Sugar-free gum with xylitol, in particular, can work wonders as a brushing substitute. If your child always has a pack in his or her school bag or pocket, he or she can easily chew a piece after snacking.
Finally, not all tooth discoloration is related to plaque. In some cases, teeth turn grey because they have been injured. If your child is involved in sports, make sure he or she has a mouthguard. This piece of safety equipment is only required in certain sports such as wrestling and football, but ideally, your child sure wear one for every potential contact sport including basketball, soccer and even volleyball.
If you have tried these alternatives and your child is still interested in teeth whitening, contact a dentist at a clinic like Willowdaile Family Dentistry. They can give you advice on whitening based on your child's unique mouth. Keep in mind children reach dental maturity at different points, and your child may be ready for whitening even if his or her peers are not.