Can Kids Use Whitening Strips?

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Whitening strips act like bleach, making a bright, white smile.
Whitening strips act like bleach, making a bright, white smile. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

The invention of teeth whitening strips allowed patients to get a bright white smile at home, without a trip to the dentist’s office. The strips neutralize and reduce dark spots on the teeth caused by caffeine, food products and candy. If your child wants a perfect smile like his or her favorite celebrity, think twice before using the strips, as they aren’t suitable for all ages.

How It Works

Teeth whitening strips remove minor stains and discolorations that cause a smile to look uneven. As organic pigments in the tooth change, it affects the overall color of the teeth. Whitening strips contain levels of hydrogen peroxide that oxidize or bleach the pigments, making teeth look whiter. Most strips contain 6.5 percent or 14 percent hydrogen peroxide. The strips are used regularly for several days or weeks before the effects are noticeable.

Considerations

According to Dental Resource, whitening strips are safe to use on children 10 years of age or older, provided the formula uses a lower dose of peroxide. Before using the product, read the ingredient list and make sure it contains a 6.5 percent hydrogen peroxide level. The strips should be used for 30 minutes at a time and twice each day. Whiter teeth are generally seen in two weeks, up to several months.

Warning

The use of whitening strips on children is potentially dangerous because of the health risks involved. The strips are specifically designed to fit adult-size teeth and will not feel as comfortable in a child’s mouth. The overlapping of the strips over the teeth can lead to gum damage, gum irritation and even irritate the teeth or tongue. When used on baby teeth or teeth that aren’t yet fully developed, the strips can lead to a condition referred to as “toilet bowl teeth” because the teeth have a blinding white porcelain shade. Whitening strips can also cause papal damage and make the teeth hypersensitive.

Expert Insight

Crest is one of the leading brands of teeth whitening strips. According to Crest, none of the Crest 3-D Whitestrips products should be used on children 12 years of age or younger. The Crest Whitestrips Supreme, which contain a higher level of hydrogen peroxide should never be used by minors, i.e., anyone under the age of 18. The company has not done any testing of the products on children.

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