Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments in the UK, brought about by a combination of TV reality shows and the new culture of celebrity; and images on social media. But how safe is it and is anyone allowed to provide the treatment?
The short answer is that it is very safe if provided by a registered dentist. This is what the British Dental Association (BDA) has made clear.
Considering that at least a third of all adults are either thinking about having the treatment or else are in the process of having it, it’s ever more important to know what’s involved.
The treatment involves bleaching your teeth with hydrogen peroxide in order to achieve as close as possible to the desired shade of white.
The BDA has explained that unless the provider of the treatment has the right training and knowledge, the treatment could result in permanent damaged to teeth as well as gums. To explain the potential for this – the tray which contains the bleach must fit properly around the teeth, or the bleach could leak onto the soft tissue of the mouth. If swallowed, internal damage could occur. Dentists make sure the trays for each patient are custom-made. Beauticians and people setting up to deliver these treatments in their own homes do not use custom-made trays. Beauticians cannot take anyone’s medical history, which informs a professional about the risks for each patient. Beauticians and others do not have the knowledge and expertise to understand the implications of anyone’s medical or dental history. Such information is essential so that the dentist is confident that there is no reason why the treatment cannot be carried out.
Another aspect of safety is that dentists are regulated to use a particular maximum strength of the whitening product. Anything stronger could cause damage to teeth and anything weaker would be far less effective. Many over the counter products or those available online are outside the limits of what is considered safe or effective.
If you are tempted to buy over the counter or online, note that the strength of the bleach which dentists are authorised to use is 6% and check how strong the over the counter product is. It is likely to be only 1% or even less, which will not give you the results you’re looking for.
Take the safe route and contact your dentist about teeth whitening.