Illegal Teeth Whitening On The Increase

A new study shows that there has been an increase of 26% in outlets offering this popular cosmetic treatment illegally.

pro teeth whitening before and afterThe teeth whitening procedure has been steadily growing in popularity for a number of years, perhaps spurred on by TV shows such as Love Island. Whilst it was once more widely used by middle aged people whose teeth had started to discolour as they got older, it is increasingly popular with younger people who are looking to achieve a perfect smile like those on the TV.

As a teeth whitening procedure performed by a professional is perfectly safe, there is little harm in this. Unfortunately though, there are an increasing number of illegal outlets which may be putting patient’s teeth at risk.

A report by the BBC indicates that there has been a rise of 26% in establishments that are offering this treatment illegally. The real number could be even higher as that figure depends on customers reporting them to the GDC (General Dental Council), which many dissatisfied customers probably do not. For clarification, only dentists registered with the GDC such as those at the Synergy Clinic in Addlestone, are allowed to perform this procedure.

What are the risks?

There are few risks to a teeth whitening procedure when carried out by a qualified professional. We always assess a patient’s suitability before we start and the strength of the whitening ingredient is carefully monitored. There are rarely any side effects although a few patients do occasionally experience additional sensitivity for a short time. This is typically only temporary and the teeth will return to normal soon afterwards.

There are big risks though if you use an illegal outlet. Most people working at them will not be qualified and have little idea how to use the products safely. Especially where a patient has requested a ‘super white’ smile, they may well use a strength of whitening solution that is positively harmful for the patient’s teeth. The most likely outcome if done incorrectly is that the patient will suffer from significant tooth sensitivity caused by damage to the nerves in the teeth. Unfortunately, not only is this often quite significant but it may be permanent as well, causing ongoing discomfort for the patient. Even worse than this, tooth loss is a real possibility when things go badly wrong.

Finally, it is not just the teeth that can suffer. If the soft tissues of the mouth such as the gums and lips are not correctly protected, burning is likely. This can be both painful and unsightly and simply isn’t worth the risk.

How do they get away with it?

Before it was made illegal other than when offered in a dental practice, there were shops on many high streets that openly advertised as teeth whitening centres.  Since it has been made illegal, these are now more often under the more general ‘beauty treatment’ name, often alongside other legal beauty treatments, making it more difficult to detect and, in the patient’s eyes perhaps, giving them additional legitimacy.

Some of these places even question whether what they are doing is illegal, using a possible loophole in the law. They attempt to get around it by not performing the treatment themselves, but handing the equipment to the patient along with instructions and supervision. It doesn’t take a great stretch of imagination to see how badly that could work out!

Why do people use these outlets?

There are two possible reasons why these places exist. The first is that many people are probably unaware not only of the risks, but also the fact that they are being operated illegally. The second is that many of them offer a teeth whitening treatment at a lower price than a dentist might.

Hopefully the first issue will be helped by reports such as that by the BBC spreading the information to a wider audience. The second may be a tempting reason to save a few pounds whilst having a whiter smile, but hopefully, the points raised in this blog will indicate the many good reasons why you should not cut corners and risk the health of your teeth and gums.

If you are interested in having your teeth whitened, please do so safely. A good place to start is to arrange an initial consultation at our Addlestone dental clinic. We will be pleased to offer advice and answer any questions that you might have about the treatment, as well as administering it safely should you choose to go ahead.

If you would like to book an appointment, whether about teeth whitening or any other dental issue, please call the Synergy Clinic today on 01932 856541.