Illegal teeth whitening treatments and how to avoid them

October 4, 2016

Tooth whitening is fast becoming a major growth industry within cosmetic dentistry and this has seen an increase in the amount of illegal and harmful methods being used by patients. 

Research by the Oral Health Foundation has shown that one in four people would rather purchase potentially harmful whitening treatment from the internet or visit illegal boutiques instead of getting professional treatment from a registered dentist. 

People may opt to try teeth whitening treatments in order to get a ‘Hollywood glamour’ smile. Teeth whitening is designed to brighten and whiten the superficial top surface of your teeth, solving minor problems of discolouration and staining. 

However, many people, opting for a cheaper alternative and turning to the internet or un-licenced boutiques have ended up in a worse state than when they first sought treatment. 

Some treatments have been found to erode the tooth’s natural enamel, which can cause pain and sensitivity of the teeth. After eroding the whiter, harder enamel, these illicit treatments leave the darker yellow under-layer of dentine exposed and can lead to further, more serious problems down the line. If carried out incorrectly, teeth whitening treatment can cause irreparable damage to your teeth. 

In more serious cases, the solution used by these illegal home whitening treatments is too strong (over 100 times the legal concentration of hydrogen peroxide in one reported case), and there have been reports of people suffering third degree burns and high levels of swelling to the lips as a result of using unlicensed and illegal tooth whitening methods. 

By law, tooth whitening products containing or releasing above 0.1% hydrogen peroxide (up to a legal maximum of 6%) can only be sold to and applied by a registered dental professional offering the treatment in their practice. The legal limit of 0.1% can be sold without prescription but is so mild that has little effect. 

Tooth whitening can only be given to a person after a dentist has first examined the patient to make sure there are no risks or any other concern about their oral condition. Patients must be over 18 years old and the first use is from a dental practitioner or under their direct supervision by a dental hygienist or dental therapist.

Our highly trained cosmetic dentists are experienced in prescribing teeth whitening treatment and our team will show you how to use the product upon the first application, to prevent any incorrect usage. We are the UK’s leading provider of Boutique Whitening and will only provide treatment to those who are suitable. 

A whiter smile isn’t worth damaging your oral health in the long term. Teeth whitening isn’t just a cosmetic procedure, it is dentistry and should be carried out by a qualified dentist, registered with the GDC. You can easily check on the GDC website to confirm that someone claiming to be a registered dentist is telling the truth. 

If you are looking for a brighter whiter smile, talk to your dentist about the teeth whitening options they may offer or arrange a free consultation at our Goodramgate practice in York city centre. 

The BBC’s Fake Britain recently conducted an exposé on these illegal and often harmful teeth whitening treatments and outlined some of the dangerous side effects.


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