Warnings Over Teeth Whitening

May 24, 2011 by Dr David Bloom

Teeth Whitening

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A beautiful white smile said to be one of the most attractive features in a person.

According to a new poll by Atomik Research, commissioned by the British Dental Health Foundation, one in four Britons risk their health by using home kits purchased over the Internet or by visiting beauticians, instead of going to the dentist to have their teeth whitened.

Dentists and prominent journalists are beginning to warn people about the dangers of teeth whitening.

The survey also asked consumers who they believe is qualified to carry out the whitening treatment: 25% responded that beauty kiosk personnel and beauticians fitted into that category, even though it is actually now illegal for them to carry out these sorts of procedures. The law states that tooth whitening products can only be sold to licensed dental practices and the treatment can only take place at their premises.

The reason why consumers should not attempt to carry out the treatment at home is that there is no guarantee in the safety of products bought online. If not carried out in the proper way, tooth whitening can harm the enamel and make teeth vulnerable, leading to a range of potential problems, including teeth sensitivity and permanent damage to gums.

Dr Nigel Carter of the British Dental Health Foundation advised consumers not to risk their health and to turn to registered dental practices for a whitening treatment.

The GDC considers Teeth Whitening to be the practice of dentistry and does not authorize non-registrants to perform this procedure. Teeth whitening should only be performed by registered dental professionals. Patients should be warned and made aware of the dangers and risks involved with teeth whitening. The truth is that Teeth Whitening is Dentistry. This is because the process covers all aspects of dentistry from diagnosis of the discoloration and treatment planning, to the correct system of treatment to use, to undertaking the clinical treatment and thereafter to dealing with sensitivity issues and the management of other bleaching related problems that may arise.

Also, there are important factors in the patient’s medical history that may be relevant which may be needed to be stabilized prior to undertaking any dental treatment whatsoever.

Also, some patients experience sensitivity after teeth whitening treatment. A dental practice is usually setup correctly to manage these sensitivity problems with predictable sensitivity management protocols. Dentists are well trained in dealing with this aspect of the dental practice. Dentists are trained to recognize diseases of the mouth and monitor gum diseases and then to design a treatment plan to manage these aspects first. Dentists have a duty of care to their patients for long-term management and continually striving for dental health improvement of their patients.

Unrecognised teeth whitening products are used to treat patients in non-clinical (medical) establishments. These procedures are not authorised by dentists and are often performed by people who are not recognized or members of the General Dental Council or British Dental Association. In fact, the British Dental Association has issued warning against non-authorised treatments. This is because many DIY teeth kits that are available online and in beauty salons contain chlorine dioxide, the same chemical used to clean swimming pools. Some of the products and kits can contain elements that can cause irreversible damage to teeth.

Anyone who wishes to consider teeth whitening should be carefully assessed for suitability by a dentist prior to any teeth whitening procedure. This is because while teeth may be stained on the surface, tooth discolouraton may also be caused by more significant problems such as tooth decay or even a tooth abscess.

If you are considering teeth whitening, talk to a dentist first, so we  may provide solutions suitable for you.

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Medically Reviewed By:

Dr David Bloom

Reviewed by Dr David Bloom

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