When Are Your Children Old Enough To Receive Common Cosmetic Treatments?

The current trend in dentistry is leaning towards a blending of preventative and cosmetic care. For example, modern fillings are usually matched to your natural tooth color now, which is technically a cosmetic solution to a traditional issue. However, there are some treatments that are purely cosmetic, such as tooth whitening, smile makeovers, and sometimes braces. With the importance placed on the perfect smile, it is not uncommon for teens and preteens to want these procedures. As a parent, you may wonder when it is okay to let your children begin getting elective dental procedures. Here are some things to keep in mind about the three most common cosmetic procedures. 

Tooth Whitening 

Tooth whitening, also known as tooth bleaching, may seem like a rather non-invasive way to improve your smile. However, there are special considerations for teens and preteens. 

First of all, it is common for a child's baby teeth to be naturally whiter than their adult teeth. This can make your child dissatisfied with their smile while they get used to the new color. However, that doesn't mean that they should immediately start bleaching. In fact, it is recommended that children wait until they are 18 to begin professional bleaching and until they are 12 for over-the-counter products. This is because the strong bleaching agents can cause sensitivity to a child's enlarged pulp chambers and repeated bleaching can harm their gums. 

There are some exceptions though. If your child has a single tooth that is discolored due to injury or disease, their dentist may offer to bleach it for them. More importantly, the dentist will try to find the cause of the discoloration. 

If your child is unsatisfied about the color of their teeth, you can purchase a gentle whitening toothpaste or try one of these natural remedies until they are old enough for a whitening treatment. 

Elective Braces 

While many children need braces to prevent crowding, some children elect to get orthodontics to treat minor cosmetic problems. These orthodontics include traditional braces and clear plastic aligners. 

All children should get an orthodontic evaluation by the time they are seven. However, if your child only has cosmetic issues, then you can wait until they are a teen before starting treatment. The benefit of this is that they will be able to use dental aligners at a later age rather than have traditional braces. Alternatively, some dentists believe that starting early will help fix problems more quickly, and get your child out of braces before high school starts. 

Gingival Sculpting 

A major component to smile makeovers is gingival sculpting, where a portion of the gums are removed to reveal more of your teeth. It is generally considered a safe, low-pain procedure and can often be done with lasers in one visit. You may want to wait until your child's adult smile has developed, around age 12 or 13, before doing this permanent procedure. Also, if a smile makeover requires more intense methods than simple laser treatment, you may want to wait until your child is psychologically mature enough to handle the treatment. This could be early if your child handles dental visits well, or it might have to wait until their late teens. 

As a parent, one of the best things you can do for your child is listen to their concerns about their smile and learn about the options available to treat common cosmetic issues. However, many cosmetic issues are not covered by insurance and so you may want to wait until your child becomes a teen and can help contribute to the cost of the procedures. Most importantly, discuss any issues with your child's dentist for advice and treatment timelines. Contact a clinic like Claremont Dental Institute for more advice.