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Bleaching Age? When to Start?

At what age can someone begin using teeth whitening products? This is a common question parents ask their dentists, and there really isn't a black and white answer. Before making this decision, it's important that you talk with your dentist to determine what age is right for your child. You'll likely discuss several factors that should be looked at when deciding at what age a patient can begin whitening.

Generally a good candidate for teeth whitening is at least 10 years old, as that is when permanent teeth come in.1 One reason a parent or child may want to bleach at that age would be if the child and parent feel something needs to be done to improve the appearance of the teeth. For example if there are stains that cause the child to feel self-conscious, whitening may be a good option.

If you and your dentist determine it's OK to whiten before all permanent teeth have come in, keep in mind that the custom tray your child will use to whiten can typically be used only over a 2–4 week period of time, as the mouth is changing so fast with growth and new teeth coming in. Additionally, you and your child need to know that teeth that haven't come in will not bleach, meaning that it may be necessary to follow up later when more and/or all of the teeth have come in in order to maintain a consistent tooth shade.

Another gauge for determining if your child is ready to bleach is whether or not they can accurately and consistently follow the instructions of the teeth whitening system. This is a good guideline to see if a child is responsible enough to whiten.

  1. Haywood VB. The "bottom line" on bleaching 2008. Inside Dentistry. February 2008: 2-5.