Teen Whitening Trend: AACD Dentist Shares Advice

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Societal pressures may be one reason that more young patients are seeking movie star smiles. According to a recent State of the Cosmetic Dentistry Industry Survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) http://www.aacd.com, patients under the age of 20 have increased 12 percent over the last 5 years.

Dr. Kellee Stanton is an AACD accredited cosmetic dentist.

Dr. Kellee Kattleman Stanton, an AACD accredited cosmetic dentist, advises teens on teeth whitening.

The media tends to set the standard for how young people think they should look.

“The media tends to set the standard for how young people think they should look,” explained Kellee Kattleman Stanton, DDS, family and cosmetic dentist, George Dental Group in Eagan, Minnesota. “Teenagers want the beautiful, white smiles they see in magazines and TV.”

Dr. Stanton ranked the most popular procedures for teens in her Minneapolis-area practice: whitening, cosmetic bonding, cosmetic re-contouring, and tooth replacement for missing or deformed incisors.

As for whitening, the number one cosmetic procedure, parents should be aware of some concerns before seeking professional treatment for children and teens. Dr. Stanton provided the answers to common whitening questions asked by parents:

Q. What’s the average age when kids can whiten their teeth?

A. We look at each case individually. A major consideration is if the teen's yellow tooth color is so socially unacceptable that it is affecting their self-esteem. We first educate parents about what causes teeth to yellow, then explain whitening benefits and risks. Generally, teens are safe to whiten once all of their permanent teeth have come in.

Q. What causes yellow teeth in kids?

A. The most common reason young people have yellow teeth, besides genetic factors, is the lack of good brushing and flossing habits. Another cause may be the antibiotics that many teens take for acne. Also if a teen drinks a lot of dark colored soda or pigmented foods such as tomato sauce, that can impact tooth color as well. The key is to brush and floss after each meal and visit the dentist at least twice a year for cleanings.

Q. Is there societal pressure to whiten at younger ages?

A. Sometimes, the whitening request is driven by the parent. However, girls have a higher awareness of themselves and how they project to others. Boys on the other hand, tend to not really notice (if at all) until they are in the work force or looking for that special someone to settle down with.

Q. Should teens whiten less often than adults?

A. Yes, because they typically respond faster and should only whiten as needed. In my practice, we use a lower percentage of whitening gel.

Q. Would either in-office whitening or home whitening kits be acceptable?

A. In-office works best since it allows the practitioner more control by doing the some of the whitening up front. The caution with young teeth is that the sensitivity after whitening can be greater, therefore it is important to manage the whitening process.

Q. Are there any other concerns?

A. When it comes to whitening a young person’s teeth, it’s okay for a parent or dentist to say “no” or “not right now.”

To see complete survey results, click here.

For more about cosmetic bonding, cosmetic re-contouring and veneers, click here.

About the AACD

The AACD is the world’s largest non-profit member organization dedicated to advancing excellence in comprehensive oral care that combines art and science to optimally improve dental health, esthetics, and function. Comprised of more than 6,300 cosmetic dental professionals in 70 countries worldwide, the AACD fulfills its mission by offering superior educational opportunities, promoting and supporting a respected Accreditation credential, serving as a user-friendly and inviting forum for the creative exchange of knowledge and ideas, and providing accurate and useful information to the public and the profession.


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