Can Kids Use Whitening Toothpaste? (Quick Answer!)

By KidSpaceStuff •  Updated: 03/16/24 •  7 min read

Are you a parent navigating the often tricky terrain of your child’s dental hygiene, and have you ever pondered, “Can kids use whitening toothpaste?” This question can spark a whirlwind of thoughts, mixed with concern for your little one’s safety and curiosity about whether such a product could add an extra sparkle to their smile. 

In this article, we will dive headfirst into answering this intriguing query, armed with expert insights about the safety and applicability of whitening toothpaste for children. We will explore the essential factors to consider when faced with such a decision, ensuring that your child’s oral health always remains in the spotlight.

Now, Can Kids Use Whitening Toothpaste?

Dentists say that kids can use small amounts of whitening toothpaste if they brush their teeth well.

The use of whitening toothpaste for children is a topic that necessitates caution and professional guidance. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, as well as multiple dental centers, agree that teeth whitening products should not be used until a child’s permanent teeth have fully grown in, typically around ages 13-15. This is because baby teeth have thinner enamel and are thus more susceptible to damage from the hydrogen peroxide in whitening agents.

Background Information About Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste is a type of toothpaste designed to brighten the color of your teeth. How does it work? Well, let’s keep it simple. 

Our teeth can get stained over time from various things like coffee, tea, red wine, or even certain types of food. These stains are like tiny dark specks that cling to the surface of our teeth. What whitening toothpaste does is contain special ingredients – usually mild bleach or abrasives – that help scrub off these stains. 

It’s like having a mini power washer for your teeth, making them look cleaner and brighter. However, it’s important to note that whitening toothpaste generally only removes surface-level stains and doesn’t change the natural color of your teeth. 

In addition, whitening toothpaste takes a lot of work. It takes time and regular use to see noticeable results. So, while it may help maintain a bright smile, it’s still essential to follow a good oral hygiene routine, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups.

The Age Factor in Toothpaste Selection

When picking toothpaste for kids, their age is important. As kids get bigger, they need a different kind of safe toothpaste. 

Use a tiny bit of toothpaste that doesn’t have fluoride on a baby’s first tooth. Since babies can’t spit out toothpaste, giving them too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, which makes permanent teeth look white. Your two-year-old can use fluoride-containing toothpaste. Use about the size of a pea, and watch to make sure they spit it out. Fluoride makes teeth stronger and stops cavities.

Whitening toothpaste shouldn’t be used on kids until they have all their permanent teeth, which generally happens between the ages of 13 and 15. Because children’s teeth, especially baby teeth, are more sensitive, whitening methods could damage the enamel. So, when choosing toothpaste for your child, you need to know how old they are to make sure it is safe and good for their teeth.

Don’t know what toothpaste to use for your kids? Check out the video below:

Dental Health in Kids

The best way to teach your child good oral care habits is by setting a good example yourself. Your attitudes and practices around oral care will influence your child’s approach to dental health.

Let’s go over the basics of dental health in kids! 

  1. Importance of Baby Teeth: Baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, start to appear when a baby is around six months old. They’re essential for eating, speaking, and maintaining space for adult teeth.
  2. Teething: Teething is the process where baby teeth start to emerge through the gums. This can begin as early as three months and cause discomfort, resulting in fussiness, sleep problems, and drooling. Some babies might not show any symptoms at all.
  3. Tooth Decay: Tooth decay is damage when bacteria in the mouth create acids that eat away at a tooth. This can cause cavities, infections, and gum disease. Kids are especially prone to tooth decay because of high-sugar diets and imperfect tooth brushing.
  4. Brushing: Children should start brushing their teeth when the first tooth appears. Parents should brush their child’s teeth until they can do it themselves (usually around 6-8). Use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) up to age 3 and a pea-sized amount from ages 3 to 6.
  5. Flossing: Children should start flossing once they have two teeth that touch. This can be challenging for little hands, so parents often need to assist until the child can do it alone.
  6. Fluoride: Fluoride helps prevent cavities and can even reverse the earliest stages of tooth damage. It’s found in most toothpaste and, in many areas, the drinking water.
  7. Dental Check-ups: Regular dentist visits should start when your child turns one or when the first tooth appears. These visits help catch potential issues early and get the child comfortable with the dentist.
  8. Healthy Eating: Sugary foods and drinks can cause cavities. Encouraging your child to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help keep their teeth and gums healthy.
  9. Bottle-feeding and Teeth: Avoid letting your child fall asleep with a bottle filled with milk, formula, or juice, as these liquids can lead to tooth decay.
  10. Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers: These habits are every day for infants and young children. However, they can become a problem if they continue after the permanent teeth have come in, typically around age 6.

Potential Dangers of Whitening Toothpaste for Kids

Whitening toothpaste often contains abrasive substances designed to scrub away stains on teeth. These substances can sometimes be too harsh for kids’ teeth, especially young children who still have their primary (baby) teeth. Here are some potential dangers:

Damage to Enamel 

The enamel on baby teeth is thinner than on adult teeth. Using whitening toothpaste could damage this thin enamel layer, leading to sensitivity and cavities.

Gum Irritation 

Some chemicals used for whitening can irritate the gums, causing discomfort or inflammation. This might discourage children from maintaining good oral hygiene habits.

Overuse of Fluoride 

Many whitening toothpastes also contain higher levels of fluoride. While fluoride is essential for dental health, too much can cause dental fluorosis in children under 8. This can lead to discoloration or streaking on the teeth.

Unrealistic Expectations 

Whitening toothpaste may set unrealistic expectations about the color of healthy teeth. Children may believe their teeth should be unnaturally white and could overuse these products, potentially damaging their teeth and gums.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, if kids brush their teeth well, they can use a small amount of whitening toothpaste.

When it comes to children using whitening toothpaste, caution is critical. Children’s teeth, especially their baby teeth, have thinner enamel than adults, making them more susceptible to damage from the abrasive ingredients often found in whitening toothpaste. Additionally, the chemicals used for whitening can cause gum irritation and discomfort.

While it’s understandable that parents want their kids to have the brightest smiles, it’s important to remember that the natural color of healthy teeth isn’t pure white. Creating unrealistic expectations about tooth color can lead to overuse of whitening products and potential oral health issues. Thanks for reading!