PITTSBURGH (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- When it comes to a sparkling, white smile, some teens and 'tweens may be getting too much of a good thing. The Academy of General Dentistry is warning parents to beware of "chicklet teeth" -- teeth that take on an unnatural color as a result of over-whitening. Some dentists say kids are reaching for the whitening strips years before they should.
Brianna Smith is at the dentist because her mother was worried about the appearance of her permanent teeth -- which are all starting to come in.
"They're a little bit yellower than the baby teeth are," says Brianna's mom, Kendra Smith.
Pediatric dentist Alene D'Alesio, D.M.D., from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, says it's a very common concern for parents -- permanent teeth often look slightly darker than baby teeth. But in the last year or two, she's been shocked by the growing response from parents.
"When they come and erupt through, the parents are comparing them to the baby teeth that are extremely white, and they want the bleaching done then and there," says Dr. D'Alesio.
The biggest complication from teeth whitening is sensitivity, which can be magnified in young adults. Their permanent teeth have larger nerve chambers.
"If you drink a glass of water, ice water, it would be very painful," says Dr. D'Alesio.
Dentists recommend waiting until age 16 before bleaching. They say the procedure should be done with a custom-fit bleaching tray in the office. Do it yourself, and you'll be tempted to over-do it.
Kendra smith uses whitening strips -- but for now, her daughter will keep her smile the old-fashioned way. "I'm going to make sure she doesn't use whitening for her teeth. Just brush them every day."
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click on: /newsalert/.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Arlene D'Alesio, D.M.D.
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
3705 Fifth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213