Tooth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments with products available widely in shops and online. The practice involves bleaching the teeth using a whitening product usually containing hydrogen peroxide. There are things you should consider before getting your teeth whitened.
Tooth whitening is safe if it is carried out by a registered dental professional but an untrained person could cause permanent damage to teeth and gums.
It is a criminal offence for anyone other than a registered dentist or dental hygienist, dental therapist or clinical dental technician acting to the prescription of a dentist, to offer or provide tooth whitening services.
The Department for the Economy Trading Standards Service for Northern Ireland and the Environmental Health Departments of the eleven District Councils, have produced a video with support from the British Dental Association, highlighting the risks of some tooth whitening products and services and advises people to protect their smile by speaking to their dentist before getting their teeth whitened.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, urged people to heed the warnings.
“Tooth whitening carried out by anyone who isn’t registered with the GDC (General Dental Council) is illegal, and I would urge anyone who is thinking of getting their teeth whitened – please do your research. Your teeth are too important to risk causing irreparable damage to your mouth and gums.”
She continued: “Some services and products promise up to fifteen shades whiter, so you have to ask yourself: what chemicals are they using to get those results? It may not work and could leave you in constant pain with incredibly sensitive teeth when eating or drinking.”
Richard Graham, the British Dental Association’s Chair of the Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, commented:
“There are strict laws on who can legally carry out tooth whitening and for good reason as this video shows. If you put yourself in the hands of unqualified people with unknown chemicals you are gambling with your health.
“As people have found to their cost, illegal and untrained operators can permanently damage teeth and gums and can’t provide help if something goes wrong. For safe, effective whitening visit your dentist.”
While only dental professionals can provide a tooth-whitening service, it is perfectly legal for anyone to treat themselves with an over-the-counter kit, provided it contains less than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide. However according to the General Dental Council, dentists are trained to know what whitening products will be safe for your teeth and gums, whilst products provided by non-dentists often do not have enough safety data and evidence to support their use; this can result in burned gums and/or blistered lips or even more serious consequences.
The GDC also states that the products available to buy online or from High Street shops often fail to declare the precise chemicals used so it is very difficult to assess their safety.
To check that your dental professional is properly registered, please visit the General Dental Council’s website to check the GDC’s registers of dental professionals at www.gdc-uk.org.
If you come across any individual providing tooth whitening whom you believe is not registered with the General Dental Council, or any tooth whitening product which may be illegal, contact the Environmental Health department in your local council or speak to the Trading Standards Service by calling Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.
To view the ‘Protect Your Smile’ video visit here