The thought of having anyone but a dental professional perform any procedure to my teeth makes me cringe, but the rise in shopping centre kiosks and beauticians offering teeth whitening would appear I am possibly in the minority. In a previous professional life I worked as a dental assistant and also for a dental supply company so perhaps I am bringing some not-so-common knowledge to the table here. I am familiar with people wanting to have a goat DIY dentistry. We would take phone calls from customers wanting to purchase their own hand scalers and probes, or cement to glue their crowns back in and yes, to try and get their hands on the special dentist-only strength bleaching agents we sold. Fortunately, we were backed by very sensible legislation that prevented the sale of these products to anyone but registered dentists, dental therapists and hygienists!
There are a couple of main points why you should only visit a dentist for teeth whitening. The first is in regards to handling the product itself. Incorrect application of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide, the two active ingredients in whitening products, can cause burning to the soft tissues and even pulpal damage to the tooth, especially when used in conjunction with a light or laser to accelerate the process.
The second point is if you are looking to a kiosk, beautician or hair dresser to get your teeth whitened there is a good chance you haven’t visited your dentist for a good old-fashioned check up in a while! Which means there are a myriad of potential problems lurking in your mouth, none of which will be detected by anyone other than a dentist – unless you have cavities large enough to park a Corolla in! And these should really be addressed before any aesthetic dentistry. A lot of discolouration on teeth (tea, coffee, red wine stains etc) can be removed simply with a scale and clean and polish – no need for bleach at all.
The Australian Dental Association’s official position on Teeth Whitening (Bleaching) By Persons Other Than Dental Practitioners issummarised as: “On the grounds of public safety, only registered dental practitioners who are educated, trained and competent in teeth whitening (bleaching)procedures should use or supply to patient’s teeth bleaching products containing more than3% hydrogen peroxide or equivalent. “Many non-dental practitioner teeth whitening services claim that their practitioners are “teeth whitening specialists” who have the knowledge or training to perform teeth whitening procedures safely. However, only registered dental practitioners have the expertise to assess whether bleaching is safe for individual patients, to recommend the most appropriate technique and materials, and to provide treatment that meets regulated safety and quality standards of care.”
You can read their full statement at www.ada.org.au