Aug
2008

Cosmetic Dentistry Can Brighten Children's Smiles

A beautiful smile can go a long way toward building self-esteem—especially in children and adolescents.  When children’s teeth are discolored or stained, they can become self-conscious and embarrassed about their smile.  Fortunately, modern cosmetic dentistry can improve the appearance of your child’s teeth and smile.

What are some causes of stains and discoloration in children’s teeth?

  • FOODAND DRINK - Organic compounds can leave stains on children’s teeth.  Some of the worst culprits for children and adolescents are cola drinks, tea, and some fruits and vegetables, such as apples and potatoes.
  • MEDICATIONS - Medications containing iron; mouth rinses containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride; antihistamines; and antipsychotic medications can stain or discolor teeth. The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline taken by a woman while pregnant or given to children whose tooth enamel is still developing—generally up to age 8—can discolor teeth.
  • DAMAGE - Damage to an individual tooth, such as from a fall or other blow to the mouth, can discolor the tooth by interfering in the normal development of the enamel or causing bleeding in the tooth’s pulp—the soft, sensitive tissue at the tooth’s center.
  • ILLNESS - Illness accompanied by a very high fever can discolor teeth by interrupting the normal growth and development of the tooth enamel. Malnutrition—the failure to properly nourish the child’s body with a well-balanced diet—can also cause tooth discoloration.
  • POOR DENTAL HYGIENE - Improper brushing and flossing that does not remove plaque and stain-causing organic compounds left by food and drink can stain teeth.
  • OTHER CAUSES - Perhaps one of the most surprising causes of tooth discoloration in children is too much fluoride, the chemical often added to drinking water to help prevent tooth decay.   Excess fluoride can be acquired through drinking water that is naturally high in fluoride or from overuse of toothpaste, mouthwash, and supplements containing fluoride.

What can be done about stained or discolored teeth?

  • BLEACHING - The most common way to remove stains and discoloration is by bleaching, which can be done either at home or at the dentist’s office.  The in-home procedure is simple, safe, and cost-effective.   A dentist-prescribed peroxide gel is applied to the child’s teeth by using a custom-made dental tray similar to a mouth guard.   Daily treatment lasts for about two weeks, and the whitening effect is noticeable after two to six weeks. The effect lasts up to 12 months.
    In-office bleaching is more costly, but it produces immediate results.
     
  • ETCH, BLEACH AND SEAL - This technique must be done by the dentist in the office.   The tooth enamel is etched with a 37 percent solution of phosphoric acid, rinsed, bleached with a 5 percent solution of sodium hypochlorite, then etched again, rinsed, and coated with a clear sealant.
     
  • VENEERS - Dental veneers are often used to treat teeth that are stained or discolored more than a few tenths of a millimeter below the surface, such as teeth that are discolored from illness, damage, or medications.  Veneers, also called laminates, are thin shells of tooth-colored porcelain or resin composite materials bonded to the front of the teeth to improve their appearance.  As you can see, modern cosmetic dentistry offers many solutions for children and adolescents who have tooth stains or discoloration that can make them self-conscious and unhappy with their smile.

    Find a cosmetic dentist and speak to them today about these and other treatments which can beautify your child’s smile.

 

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