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4 Ways Cosmetic Dentistry Can Improve Your Teen's Smile

Your teen's braces are finally off and she's bursting for that starlet-white smile. Cosmetic dentists can create bright mouths in the office, but is your child ready for a professional procedure? Before deciding between at-home whitening options and an in-office version, consider a few fast facts on cosmetic dentistry for adolescents.

1. Whitening toothpastes. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, whitening toothpastes remove surface stains. These products don't change the color of the teeth or bleach them. Most toothpastes remove stains to some extent. The mild abrasive in a toothpaste allows your teen to brush off mild staining. If her teeth have deeper stains from medication use of for another reason, a whitening toothpaste won't cover it up.

2. Bleaching. If your teen wants a bright white smile, bleaching will change the color of her teeth. She has at-home and in-office options. At-home products typically contain peroxide as a bleaching agent. These products may cause tooth sensitivity or irritation of the gums, notes the American Dental Association. Your teen needs to use the product as directed. This may mean using whitening strips or trays every day for a week or weeks. Cosmetic dentists perform one-time bleaching. This procedure combines a bleaching agent and laser to brighten teeth. The dentist uses protective gel or a shields to minimize gum irritation. If your teen wants seriously whiter teeth, talk to the dentist first about whether she can try an at-home product or should go for the pro version first.

3. Microabrasion. If your teen has discolored spots or areas on her teeth, microabrasion is an option that doesn't require treating her entire mouth. For example, if your teen has marks around the spaces where her braces were, this technique can lighten a specific area. This procedure is only down in the pediatric cosmetic dentist's office. The dentist uses a mild acid or an abrasive to remove the spots or stained areas. Like whitening toothpastes, this is a surface procedure and doesn't work well on deep stains.

4. Veneers and crowns. These are two permanent treatments for broken, chipped or discolored teeth. If your teen has damage to her teeth or discoloring that doesn't respond to other whitening procedures, veneers are tooth-colored pieces of porcelain or plastic that the dentist bonds to the existing teeth. A crown requires the dentist to move much of the original tooth. The dentist then fits the crown over what is left. These two cosmetic procedures are more permanent, but more costly, than other types of whitening.

Cosmetic dentistry isn't just for adults. If your teen is begging for whiter teeth, a pediatric professional like Glendale Dental Group can provide expert opinions on what technique, product or procedure is the best option for a teen.