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The dangers of illegal tooth whitening

  • A blog exploring the dangers of illegal tooth whitening, what is it, and how to avoid it.

    By Sophia Courtaux

Are you wishing for a white Christmas this year? Leading oral health group Tooth Whitening Information Group (TWIG) warns against purchasing and cashing in on cheap tooth whitening treatments being offered by non-qualified technicians this Christmas.

What is tooth whitening?

Tooth whitening is a procedure that involves bleaching your teeth using a whitening product (usually containing hydrogen peroxide) and has become increasingly popular over the years.

There is a legal age limit for tooth whitening, which means you have to be at least 18 years old to have the procedure.

Who can perform this procedure? 

Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and should only be carried out by a qualified and registered dental professional. The British Dental Association (BDA) has affirmed this, advising that tooth whitening is safe if it is carried out by a registered dental practitioner.

How does tooth whitening become illegal?

Sadly, we do come across a number of procedures carried out by unqualified individuals, which has resulted in the treatment going wrong, such as the use of overly strong bleach (which is illegal) being used which can cause harm.

This procedure carried out by unqualified individuals using illegal bleach is, in turn, referred to as “illegal tooth whitening”.

What are the risks of illegal tooth whitening? Why is it dangerous?It is legal in the UK for a registered dentist to apply whitening products containing 6% hydrogen peroxide to a patient’s tooth. Comparatively, tooth whitening products on the high street may contain up to 0.01% hydrogen peroxide. Anything above this can be dangerous and carry a greater risk of the following:

  • Damage to the enamel of a tooth (this is the thin outer covering of a tooth that protects it);
  • Burning and blistering of the gums and lips;
  • Permanent tooth and gum damage;
  • Ingestion of chemicals.

The General Dental Council (GDC), which is an organisation which regulates dental professionals in the UK and promotes public protection, have recently prosecuted several individuals for carrying out illegal and unsafe tooth whitening procedures. Although it is reassuring that the GDC is taking action, this worrying trend shows no signs of stopping.

Are you considering undergoing tooth whitening?

If you are considering undergoing a tooth whitening procedure, as tempting as it is with all of these Christmas promotions on teeth whitening deals, you should do the following:

  • Ensure that the individual completing the tooth whitening is a registered dental professional. You can check this on the GDC website, under the “search the registers” function;
  • If you are buying a “home whitening” kit, ensure that the hydrogen peroxide content is under 0.01%. Anything higher than this can cause long-term damage.

Have you undergone a substandard tooth whitening procedure?

If you are concerned that you have undergone a substandard and potentially illegal tooth whitening procedure, please feel free to contact us for a free no obligation telephone consultation so that we can advise you further.

Want to know more?

Call 0800 051 8069

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