Teeth Whitening: A Warning

Teeth whitening is becoming more and more popular as we strive to achieve that “Hollywood Smile”. Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them lighter, and is now being carried out in many beauty salons across Britain and Ireland. But does it work and is it safe?

Where should I get my teeth whitening done?

Teeth whitening is a form of dentistry and should only be performed by a dentist or regulated dental professional. Therefore, if a salon is offering teeth whitening by a therapist who is not trained in these areas, they are working illegally. I would strongly advise anyone considering teeth whitening in a salon to research how it is done and who by. This is such a common practice nowadays, and teeth whitening companies even offer “training” to therapists at Beauty Trade Shows. You are putting your teeth and health at risk if you get this treatment done by someone other than a dentistry professional. Salons are allowed to sell DIY home teeth whitening kits but cannot give any dentistry advice to those who purchase them. The risks of using these home kits are that the mouth guard provided may not fit properly so some of the bleaching gel may leak out onto your gums and into your mouth, causing blistering and sensitivity.

How is teeth whitening carried out?

There are 2 types of teeth whitening offered:

  1. Manual: the dentist will take an impression of your teeth to make a mouth guard and will instruct you how to use it with a bleaching gel. Then, using your mouth guard at home, you regularly apply the gel for a specified period of time over two to four weeks. Some whitening gels can be left on for up to eight hours at a time, which shortens the treatment period to one week.
  2. Laser Whitening: also known as power whitening. This is where a bleaching product is painted onto your teeth and then a light or laser is shone on them to activate the whitening. Laser whitening takes about an hour.

How effective is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening is not a permanent treatment, it lasts usually between a few months to 3 years. It cannot be used on false teeth or dentures.

If you think your teeth whitening has been carried out illegally (that is, by someone not qualified or registered to perform it) contact the General Dental Council on 0845 222 4141 or email illegalpractice@gdc-uk.org. 

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