Over half of the patients who seek cosmetic dentistry are between the ages of 41 and 60. This is due to a number of reasons, as aging and the foods and drinks we consume affect the appearance of our teeth. But while cosmetic dentistry procedures seem to be more necessary for older people, can younger patients also seek cosmetic dentistry? And how young is too young?
Dealing with the still-developing anatomy of younger patients can present a clinical challenge for dentists. This is because treatment options must often be adapted for children. It can be sometimes difficult to establish the best way to treat patients who are still changing and growing. This leads to some reluctance to perform common treatments, especially cosmetic ones. Find more about what is cosmetic dentistry here.
However, with the continual advancement of modern dentistry techniques and procedures, many dentists now believe that cosmetic procedures can be carried out on young patients – although at certain stages of development.
Teeth whitening is perhaps one of the least contentious cosmetic treatments for younger people. There are very few negative side effects to the tooth whitening process. Tooth sensitivity and irritation along the gum line can be common, but these are minimal problems. They won’t usually cause much difficulty for young people.
However, dentists usually recommend young people wait until they are at least 16 years of age before considering whitening treatment. This is due to the fact that anyone younger than 16 may not have achieved full dental maturity. This means the young person may still be developing a fully-mature set of permanent teeth.
Immature teeth can affect the whitening process in a negative way. Children and younger teenagers have immature enamel on their teeth. On average it takes two years after the last baby tooth falls out (around the age of 12) for the enamel to mature. Applying whitening products before the enamel is mature could expose the nerve of the tooth to more bleaching products than is healthy. This can irritate the nerve and cause sensitivity.
As well, teenagers who have a combination of baby teeth and permanent teeth may find that the colour of their teeth becomes uneven as more permanent teeth appear. It’s better to wait until all their adult teeth have emerged before trying to correct the colour of the teeth.
Teeth whitening may be considered for teenagers with teeth affected by:
- Conditions such as discolouration from too much fluoride
- Post-traumatic injury discolouration
- Post-orthodontic tooth discolouration (for example, after having braces removed)
However, teenagers merely wanting to improve the aesthetics of their teeth will likely have to wait.
Keep in mind that a qualified dentist should supervise all tooth whitening for teenagers and young people.
Dental veneers are thinly-bonded shells attached to the front surfaces of teeth to conceal imperfections. They are a great solution for improving the appearance of your smile; and thus are gaining popularity among younger people. Dental veneers are generally considered to be appropriate for young adults, but not for younger ages.
Teeth go through significant changes during adolescence and early adulthood. Thus, it’s important to wait until teeth have set into their fixed positions before considering dental veneers. Having veneers installed too early can cause the veneers to move away from the gum line as the tooth continues to grow. This will often cause gaps between the veneer, the tooth and the gum. Not only will this give you an unsatisfactory smile, it can also cause hygiene issues in the future.
General guidelines recommend that the minimum age for veneers is:
- 16 years old for females
- 18 years old for males
Dentists would prefer patients to have stopped growing before considering veneers. As always, each case is individual and it’s important to consult with your dentist. Everyone develops and ages differently.
Dental implants are essentially false teeth that are permanently fixed in your mouth. While they might seem like the province of older people, in fact thousands of Australians under 30 have received dental implants.
Younger people might want to consider dental implants if:
- They have physical damage to their teeth, particularly from sporting injuries
- Their natural teeth did not grow in properly
- They have experienced tooth loss through gum disease or poor dental hygiene
- Their teeth do not align properly for correct bite or jaw function
- They have damaged their teeth through grinding
But how young is too young for dental implants?
The only age-related criteria to receiving dental implants is that your jaw has finished growing. This means that around 18 – 21 years of age is the lower limit for dental implants. Many dentists would prefer to wait until even later. In some cases, late jaw bone growth can be common even once people have stopped growing vertically. A dental implant is fixed in place and does not move with bone growth. There is therefore a potential for problems if a patient’s jaw bone is still growing.
Unless the particular dental problem is causing significant emotional or physical distress for a child or young person, it would be better off waiting to make most cosmetic changes until all permanent teeth have established. Individual circumstances vary however, and it’s best to make any decision in consultation with a qualified and experienced dentist such as Lentini Dental (https://www.lentinidental.com.au/contact-us/). Make an appointment with your dentist to determine whether the cosmetic procedure you’re considering is absolutely necessary, and to weigh up the pros and cons.
Click here to get your top 5 cosmetic dentistry questions answered: https://www.lentinidental.com.au/blog/top-5-cosmetic-dentistry-questions/