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A White Christmas

As Christmas draws closer, this time of year brings a wave of people seeking to polish their smiles and look their best for the festive season. It is more common now than ever to consider cosmetic dental treatments as Christmas gifts, and teeth whitening is at the top of the list of popular procedures going into the New Year. Teeth whitening may be common these days, but the following outlines the importance of safe practice and appropriate research before undergoing the treatment at home or elsewhere.

Tooth whitening is one of the largest growing cosmetic procedures in the UK, and the industry is estimated to be worth over £40 million each year1. According to research highlighted by the Oral Health Foundation, 20% of British adults have had cosmetic dental treatments, 19% are considering it for the future, and 1 in 3 Brits are interested in teeth whitening2. However, not everyone is willing to pay for the safety of having a dental professional administer the treatment. The Oral Health Foundation also highlighted that a nationwide poll found that one in four single adults have had their teeth whitened, and almost half of those have admitted to doing so illegally1.

It is illegal for anyone who is not registered with the General Dental Council to perform tooth whitening treatments3. This is for your own safety, as not only are dentists fully-qualified and licensed, but they can also take into account your dental needs and history. Similarly, illegal whitening products can contain up to 300 times the legal amount of hydrogen peroxide according to Smile Up Dental3, which can lead to severe burning, blistering, and damage to your gums and teeth.

Another alternative to visiting a professional is at home whitening kits that can be bought in stores. However, the strength of the hydrogen peroxide found in over-the-counter home whitening kits can only legally contain 0.1%, which is too low to have any real effect on your teeth4. Dentists can use gel containing up to 6% hydrogen peroxide, as well as providing you with ongoing aftercare and whitening trays that are moulded to your teeth – therefore lowering the risk of the whitening gel coming into contact with your gums3.

Whilst the low level of hydrogen peroxide in home-whitening kits may not affect the colour of your teeth much, it can still cause damage to your gums when using trays that do not fit your mouth properly. Their promise to see results in minutes usually suggests that they also contain chlorine dioxide, which is the same acid used to clean swimming pools5. The chemical strips away stains from teeth, but it can also strip away the enamel too. Therefore, the frequency of which you use these treatments can also do some serious damage to your teeth – something a dentist will make you aware of, and provide immediate help for.

When visiting your dentist to get whitening treatment, they may also remind you that a white smile is not equal to a healthy smile. In the Oral Health Foundation’s top tips4 for tooth whitening, they emphasise that the treatment only lightens your existing tooth colour, and can’t get rid of deep stains caused by food, drinks and smoking. Therefore, if you would like your smile to be the brightest it can be this Christmas, make sure to keep up a regular dental hygiene routine by brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and to be aware of the substances that may impact the colour of your teeth.

Even though visiting your dentist is the best option to ensure a safe administration of whitening treatment, it is possible that things can go wrong. Whilst the majority of dentists carry out an excellent job at teeth whitening, avoidable accidents can happen if your dentist fails to take the proper care.

If you believe that the treatment you received contributed to oral health issues following teeth whitening treatment, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact The Dental Law Partnership to find out if you are eligible to make a claim – call us today on 08082312019. For more information on tooth whitening treatments, follow the links below for helpful tips and advice.

  1. Oral Health Foundation
  2. Oral Health Foundation
  3. Smile Up Dental
  4. Oral Health Foundation
  5. Dental Law Partnership