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Dentists express concern over teeth whitening in beauty spas

lady at dentist

For many years, the national press has run articles about non-surgical treatment disasters. Many spa resorts and health clubs across the EU offer treatments under the banner of “non-surgical cosmetic therapies” which include dermal fillers and botox injections as well as collagen injections for the “bee sting lips” look.

In the UK, Beauty Therapists are expected to undergo significant training before they are permitted to inject patients with these potentially harmful substances. However a new treatment is finding its way onto the non-surgical treatment list which doesn’t seem to be undergoing the same levels of training, teeth whitening.

The products used for teeth whitening by dental professionals are specialist products. The active ingredients in teeth-whitening products, which are activated by LED light, can be dangerous if administered by untrained individuals and can cause chemical burns to the gums.  However, the rules governing its use seem to be somewhat lax due to a loophole as the spas claim that their team have been trained by “dental professionals”.

The General Dental Council is clear about this distinction stating “Only registered dentists, dental therapists, dental hygienists and clinical dental technicians, working to the prescription of a dentist, can perform tooth whitening. You can check to see whether someone is registered by going clicking here. If the person performing the tooth whitening cannot be found on one of the GDC registers they are not legally allowed to practice tooth whitening and it would be unlawful for them to whiten your teeth.”

However, what happens in rogue beauty spas is that they employ a dental consultant, with a GDC number, to prescribe the treatment. They may never see the patient at all, or just see them for a cursory 5 minute chat for legal reasons before handing them on to the person actually whitening your teeth, who could be woefully under trained.

It is a delicate procedure which should only be administered under clinical conditions. Under EU law, only products containing not more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide concentrations do not require a dental practitioner to apply them.  Consequently, the home teeth whitening kits that you can purchase have such low concentrations of active material that they have somewhat negligible results.

When we consulted the experts at our local dental practice for their advice they stated that “Dentists are trained to use potentially dangerous chemicals in safe ways” and went onto explain that  “ most dentist-administered treatments contain higher concentrations of peroxide which is why professional teeth whitening gets the results you could never at home”.

“We understand that many customers may want that Hollywood smile. Whitened teeth can take years off of someone’s apparent age. However, the advantage of going to a dentist is that they give you a through check-up beforehand”.

lady smiling

“Dentists will look for tooth decay, cracks, gum disease, mouth cancer and other problems before picking up the colour chart to see how darkly stained the teeth are,” he said, adding that “using whitening products in situations where there is a pre-existing problem like a crack in a tooth could aggravate the problem and cause pain, infection or other complications, the pain can be excruciating and we would never want any patient to be in pain. Worse still, they could miss an opportunity to diagnose something that is life threatening, such as mouth cancer.”

So if you were looking for a cheap solution to teeth whitening do not go to a beauty spa or health club, see your dentist.