Professional tooth whitening is a complex procedure which involves the use of powerful chemicals that can do harm to your teeth and gums if not used properly. It’s for this reason that tooth whitening carried out in the wrong hands is so dangerous.

Due to the strong chemicals, when tooth whitening goes wrong it can cause the following issues:

  • Chemical burns to the gums.

  • Blisters on the gums.

  • Ulceration of the gums, mouth and throat.

  • Swollen lips.

Putting your smile in danger is never worth the risk. There are two main sources of unsafe tooth whitening; DIY treatments performed at home, and illegal treatments by unqualified people. It is important that you are aware of these and avoid going down the potential harmful route.    

DIY tooth whitening at home

Worryingly, it is quite easy to go online and purchase hydrogen peroxide (the active ingredient in professional whitening) in concentrations that are way above the legal limit of 0.1% for over-the-counter whitening products.

Performing home treatments can be extremely risky and lead to several complications that need medical attention.

DIY tooth whitening trends are very popular on social media. These often involve purchasing hydrogen peroxide at concentrations between 3%-5%, that’s 30 to 50 times more than the legal over-the-counter limit. Influencers with no medical background show audiences how to apply this directly on the teeth or using it as a mouth rinse. Trends like these put your oral health at risk and should be avoided at any cost.

These Instagram photos of whitening before and afters look great to the untrained eye I’m sure, but to me I can see all the decay and tartar on the teeth and any imperfections which would indicate to me that they aren’t suitable for whitening

Illegal tooth whitening

Despite being illegal, it is not uncommon to find high street beauticians and salons offering tooth whitening treatment, often claiming they have the qualifications to do so. This is simply not true.

It is against the law for anyone other than a dentist (or dental hygienist or dental therapist working to the prescriptions of a dentist) to carry out tooth whitening. If you are considering tooth whitening treatment, make sure that you check that where you’re getting a service which is both legal and safe.

The things to look out for are that the person carrying out the procedure is registered by the General Dental Council and that the establishment has been assessed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

You can find out whether a person is registered to perform dentistry in the UK by checking the GDC register.

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