Baby teeth are very white in appearance. This is mainly because baby teeth have less dentin than permanent teeth do. Dentin is the layer just underneath the enamel layer. This spongy, material provides teeth with flexibility and contains tubules that channel nutrient-rich fluid throughout teeth. But dentin is yellow. And this can become a cosmetic issue when permanent teeth erupt.
Because dentin is yellow, and because permanent teeth have more of it, once the permanent teeth erupt next to the white baby teeth, they often appear unnaturally yellow. This, understandably, causes concern for parents.
But is whitening the right approach? It's probably best to hold off until all the permanent teeth have erupted, for a couple of reasons.
New Permanent Teeth Have Large Nerves
For an adult, whitening might cause some sensitivity. But in a child whose permanent teeth are just beginning to erupt, the sensitivity from whitening can be very painful. The new roots of freshly erupted permanent teeth are larger than the roots of baby teeth. Baby teeth are built to last only a few years, until the permanent teeth are ready. Because of that, the roots of baby teeth are small.
The roots of permanent teeth are naturally larger than the roots of baby teeth. And this is especially true with new permanent teeth. And those new nerves need time to adapt. If you whiten your child's teeth too early, before the nerves have adapted and reduced in size, it could be a very painful experience for your child.
Permanent Teeth Take About Two Years to Mature
New permanent teeth need time to mature. The enamel layer of permanent teeth isn't fully calcified upon eruption. The calcification process takes several years, during which time, excellent oral hygiene is essential to permanent teeth's development. If you were to white permanent teeth too early, you could damage them and cause them to demineralize.
Over time, saliva helps to strengthen the enamel layer of new permanent teeth by bolstering them with minerals like phosphorous and calcium. And once fully calcified, permanent teeth can better withstand the whitening process, which involves applying hydrogen peroxide gel onto teeth. The hydrogen peroxide penetrates the enamel layer to whiten teeth.
Wait Until All Your Child's Permanent Teeth Have Erupted
By the age of about 12 to 13, all of your child's permanent teeth — apart from their wisdom teeth — will have erupted. This is a good time to begin considering teeth whitening for your child. While many dentists do recommend waiting until 15 or more, your dentist can check the development of your child's teeth before that age to see if their teeth are developed enough for whitening.
For more information on teeth whitening, reach out to a local children's dentistry.
There are more than two ways to straighten a smile, and in this blog, I plan to discuss them all. I plan to look at the differences between braces and retainers and explain why sometimes you may need them both. I look at the differences in cost, time commitment and efficacy. Personally, I have had a bit of experience with this subject – I had braces as a young teen, and I had a permanent retainer. In this blog, I discuss what I have learned, and I present all kinds of new information on the topic. Whether you are trying to make decisions for yourself or your child. I hope you find this information useful.