As a nation, we’re not happy with our teeth. More than half of Australians (55%) feel self-conscious about their teeth. Many of us turn to the Internet or to home based solutions to address whitening our teeth.
But as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”
Increasingly, we’re seeing news articles highlighting the dangers of whitening done by someone other than a dentist. We see stories of allergic reactions, swollen lips and tongues, blisters, mouth ulcers, chemical burns and damage to the surfaces of teeth.
Tooth whitening is classed as a non-reversible procedure. This is why the Australian Dental Association strongly advises the procedure only be performed at a dental surgery. While the tooth shade will fade again after a whitening procedure, the teeth will never revert to their original shade.
Dangers of Home Whitening
When you buy whitening solutions online, you cannot be sure of the integrity of the chemicals. You also cannot be sure of the manufacturing or production conditions. For this reason, we want you to be sure you are improving your teeth, not damaging them.
A quick search online shows here are many home teeth-whitening options. While many simply don’t work, most contain acids, sugars and/or powerful abrasives, such as charcoal. These may lead to tooth damage and hurt your oral health.
“The main culprits are DIY whitening kits, which are forms of whitening solution, as well as charcoal products, which are toothpastes and powders.
The charcoal products were found to cause abrasion to enamel, discolouration of white filling materials, the inclusion of human carcinogenic materials. As well, the activated charcoal can absorb fluoride, rendering it useless in the paste.”
– Mikaela Chinotti, ADA spokeswoman
We can see some items sold online are being sold illegally in Australia, or are highly suspicious at best. They contain active ingredients at a higher rate than acceptable by the Poisons Standard. For your safety, this standard prohibits their use by anyone except dental professionals.
Research indicates without professional monitoring, home based whitening decreases the strength of your tooth’s enamel. Over time, this weakens the tooth and additional complications can set in.
There are other reasons to visit a dentist for tooth whitening rather than a beauty salon or the internet.
Dentist Whitening Is Safer
As dentists we are able to use a higher concentration of whitening gel because we do the procedure in the surgery. You can be comforted knowing your procedure is supervised by practitioners who are registered and qualified in all areas of oral care.
Dentists know that not all teeth are suitable for tooth whitening. Sometimes teeth have have flaws which can be made worse by whitening gel.
Teeth which have a hard buildup of calculus or a layer of biofilm will not whiten effectively.
If you have gum disease or periodontal pocketing, it will be aggravated by the whitening gel. Your oral tissues could get inflamed and become painful.
These conditions need to be treated by a dentist to ensure your best oral health and the best results before embarking on tooth whitening.
Our Whitening Procedure
Before we begin the whitening procedure, we do an oral examination. We check your teeth, your gums and the health of your oral tissues to ensure your mouth is suitable for the whitening process. We then explain what to expect and discuss precautions and product advice with you. And if you have any questions, we’ll take the time you need to answer them all. Finally we photograph and record your tooth shade registrations.
We place a barrier on your gums to prevent chemical burns and use lip retractors to protect your lips and keep them safely out of the way during whitening. We have high volume suction we can use on used gel to prevent it spreading to unwanted areas. Your dentist supervises the entire whitening process, assisted by experienced staff members.
|At the end of the appointment, we again take photographs and record tooth shade registrations. This easily shows the improvement in your tooth colour. We give you detailed care instructions and answer any questions you may have.
We also follow up with you after a pre-agreed period of time to ensure that you are confident with the continuing result.
Consider your oral health if you plan to whiten your teeth. Think carefully about how you look after your teeth and be sure what you put in your mouth is safe.
This video is from a dentist perspective, and gives you a great overview of the whitening procedure
This recent article from the ABC News site tells the story:
For further information, the ADA website is also a great resource: