While teeth whitening is a safe procedure on the whole, but it can be dangerous if carried out by someone who is unqualified. Only registered dental professionals, such as fully qualified dentists, dental therapists, and dental hygienists are legally allowed to carry out the procedure. The process involves bleaching your teeth using a whitening product that contains a weak acid and oxidising agent, hydrogen peroxide.
You don’t always have to visit a dentist to get your teeth whitened as it is possible to pick up over-the-counter tooth whitening kits. However, for those to be legal they must only contain 0.1% hydrogen peroxide; this can mean that some home kits do not contain enough hydrogen peroxide to be effective. A dentist can legally use 6% hydrogen peroxide.
Take extreme caution if you buy home kits online, as a BBC investigation found that a product they bought online contained sodium perborate, which is banned for use in cosmetic products by the EU, as it has been linked with foetal abnormalities.
Whether you do it yourself or go to the dentist, there are risks and side effects that you should be aware of:
- Regardless of whether you go to a dentist or use a home kit, a side effect of teeth whitening is tooth sensitivity. If you have sensitive teeth already then it might be best to avoid the procedure or perhaps have it done at a dental practice rather than using a home kit.
- One of the most painful risks with teeth whitening is burns to gums. While it is uncommon and rarely serious, a young women in the UK developed third-degree burns and swollen lips after she visited a beautician who was practising illegally and had attempted tooth bleaching.
- It is possible for the whitening substance to cause blistering of the lips and gums if the bleaching agent is allowed to leak from the teeth.
- If excess quantities of hydrogen peroxide are used, the excess may be swallowed and this can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
- It is not always advisable to have a teeth whitening procedure if you have gum disease.
- It is also worth noting that whitening substances will not whiten any fillings, crowns or veneers.
If you do decide that you want to undergo a teeth whitening procedure, visit your dentist. Don’t be afraid to ask about the different treatments and what the potential risks are in your particular case. Get a second opinion if you need to, and speak to others who have undergone the procedure. For further information, go to the NHS or the General Dental Council.
If you’ve had a teeth whitening procedure at your dentist and you have suffered unnecessary pain, then you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Dental Law Partnership today.