The Dangers of Illegal Teeth Whitening

Having whiter teeth is something many people value and can give a much-needed boost of self-confidence. There are different options available to achieve a whiter, brighter smile; everything from at home kits, to cosmetic services, to procedures offered by professional dental practices. Ultimately for most people, cost is usually the deciding factor in choosing which treatment to use.

At home teeth whitening kits can save some money but this is a very temporary option as stains can show through again in as little as 24 hours. There are also chemicals in these kits that can leave gums blistered and burned or leave teeth feeling rather sensitive. Some online companies sell gels and strips for teeth whitening that contain an illegal amount hydrogen peroxide. The legal amount a product is permitted to be used safely by the public is 0.1 percent of hydrogen peroxide, but some products contain up to 35% which is not only illegal but is also highly dangerous.

National newspapers reported recently that a company called Essex Smiles had been prosecuted and fined £4,500 in March 2019 by the General Dental Council (GDC) for offering illegal whitening. A reporter went undercover posing as a customer wanting teeth whitening treatment at Essex Smiles.

After this had been reported, Trading Standards issued a statement stating ‘There have been some instances where consumers have been harmed by dangerously strong chemical levels in teeth-whitening kits. Our advice is to be cautious when buying online and seek advice from a dentist.’ According to the GDC, the UK regulator of dental services, ‘the legal position on teeth whitening is very clear: the treatment can only be performed by a dentist, dental therapist, dental hygienist or clinical dental technician. Illegal tooth whitening represents a real risk to the public as those who carry it out are neither qualified to assess a patient’s suitability for the treatment nor are they able to intervene should an emergency arise’.

One case from Cardiff reported that he had suffered crippling mouth pain and tooth sensitivity after illegal whitening at a different High Street chain to Essex Smiles. The 31-year-old paid £60 for the hour-long treatment last year after seeing it advertised on Instagram: ‘I had shooting pains in my teeth and gums for three days. I couldn’t drink water, my teeth were too sensitive. The lamp was so hot I think it damaged my enamel – and it had no effect on the colour of my teeth.’ What this case directly warns against is using a teeth whiting product without the professional oversight and experience of an orthodontist.

At Specialist Orthodontist Harley Street, we adhere to safe and legal teeth whitening treatments because your oral health is our top priority. The legal dose of hydrogen peroxide is up to 6% which can be safely used by a professional orthodontist who applies a precise amount of hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth. Your oral health will be thoroughly assessed prior to, during and after the teeth whitening process which includes assessing and appropriately treating any problems that may arise, a service that untrained workers simply are not qualified to provide. We offer our service in line with advice given by the General Dental Council, that teeth whitening treatment should only be done by a qualified dentist, hygienist or dental technician.

Contact Specialist Orthodontist Harley Street today to learn how we can help you!

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