The BBC recently launched an undercover investigation into beauty therapists performing illegal teeth whitening treatments across the city of London. Their investigation found a number of patients opting for non-professional teeth whitening and sustaining serious damage to their teeth as a result – one beauty therapist was using levels of hydrogen peroxide as high as 25% – the legal limit used by dentists is 6%.
How should teeth whitening be performed?
Teeth whitening should always be performed as a custom treatment, where impressions of your teeth are taken. This is because it is the only way to obtain an exact mould of your teeth, which your dentist can use as a foundation for the whitening trays that will apply the whitening agent. When you have teeth whitening performed by a non-medical professional, a one-size-fits-all approach is used, so the whitening agent can leak over the trays and onto your gums, causing potentially irrevocable damage.
What are the benefits of professional teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening that is carried out under the supervision of a medical professional produces fantastic benefits that stretch beyond that which are simply aesthetic. Before the whitening part of the treatment begins, your dentist will perform what is known as a scale and polish to remove unwanted plaque and tartar from your tooth enamel – this type of staining cannot be removed through brushing alone. Following this, the first measure of whitening agent is applied and the patient can take their custom trays home with them to carry it on. The scale and polish treatment, coupled with the teeth whitening process gives patients a chance to ‘reset’ their dental health and introduce new and healthier habits to their oral and dental hygiene routine. Whiter and healthier teeth help to boost the confidence of many who have repressed the desire to smile for many years, for year of exposing their unhealthy-looking teeth and attracting attention to them.
A word of warning
No-one deserves to suffer serious damage to their teeth as a result of illegal teeth whitening. You should always make sure you seek this treatment from an individual with a medical background such as a doctor or dentist. The GDC’s (General Dental Council) head of medical practice Francesca Keen said ‘If you’re seeing someone on the high street that’s attended a one day course and putting that into perspective – dentists attend a five year training programme in order to qualify – you’re putting yourself in harm’s way’.