Teeth whitening for children and pre-teenagers is an untapped market from which brands have steered away due to inconclusive research on the long-term effects of peroxides on developing teeth. According to Tara Eriksen, senior international marketing manager, Beyond Dental & Health, the main concern is the misuse of teeth whitening products by children.
“One concern in teeth whitening with children is that they may swallow the whitening gel or over-whiten their teeth, which can lead to increased sensitivity,” Eriksen says. Therefore, many major players do not offer whitening options for kids but instead focus on educating them about proper dental hygiene through kid-friendly pre-rinses, mouthwashes and toothpastes. “The most important benefit for children is protection from cavities, especially given the prevalence of non-fluoridated bottled water,” says Laura Brinker, spokeswoman for P&G.
For such basic oral care products, Eriksen adds that children and their parents must be attracted to a product—though for different reasons. “Our children’s mouthwash is gentle, yet effective, but we’ve also made it fun for kids to use,” she says, “and the strawberry flavor is fantastic.” As for the formula of the mouthwash, it contains xylitol, which Eriksen refers to as “a gentler alternative to fluoride,” as well as tea tree oil for its natural antiseptic properties.
According to Ana de Oliveira, vice president of sales and operations, private label contract manufacturer Sheffield Pharmaceuticals also guides its clients to consider tea tree oil and xylitol, in addition to cranberry seed oil and aloe vera gel, as ingredients for children’s oral care products.