Dentist's warning about online teeth whitening kits

Woman using teeth whitening strips at home.
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

UK Trading Standards has released alarming data indicating that up to 90% of teeth whitening kits available online could pose a safety risk.

Investigations have revealed some kits contain hydrogen peroxide levels up to 300 times above the legal safety limit. In Britain, it's illegal for over-the-counter teeth whitening products to have more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide.

Any concentration higher than this must be administered by a professional dentist. Dr Smita Mehra, BDS MFGDPRCS, Principal Dentist at The Neem Tree Dental Practice, has voiced concerns following the report, reports Wales Online.

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She cautions that high peroxide levels in DIY teeth whitening kits can damage tooth enamel. They could also lead to gum burns and tooth decay, which in extreme cases, may result in tooth loss.

Dr Mehra said: "Although dentists often provide teeth whitening services, many people looking for a whiter smile will turn to at-home teeth whitening kits and strips, as a cheap fix for remedying staining or discolouration of the teeth.

"Whitening strips are placed onto the teeth, and often contain chemicals such as peroxide or bleach, in order to restore them to a more 'pearly white' colour.

"The majority of teeth whitening strips are perfectly safe for people to use at home within the recommendations from the supplier. But high levels of the chemicals in teeth whitening kits may make your teeth sensitive and cause irritation to the gums."

"Not only that, but home teeth whitening kits are often 'one size fits all'. This means that the ingredients in them are not specific to the needs or your teeth and mouth.

"As a result, there is a higher chance that home teeth whitening kits will cause burns to the gums, or that the chemicals in them can harm the tooth enamel. Damaged gums or worn tooth enamel can lead to a whole host of more serious dental problems, including increased chance of tooth decay and gum disease."

She added: "Therefore, if your teeth are discoloured or stained, there are a number of options available that don't involve using teeth whitening strips that can help with a sparkling white smile. Professional teeth whitening will always be your best option overall, as it will be more effective and use all of the correct treatments for your teeth.

"Your teeth are first checked by a dentist, to make sure there are no dangerous cracks or cavities and the gums are healthy. Then, they are cleaned professionally, to make sure any staining or tartar doesn't weaken the whitening process.

"This way, you are giving your teeth the best chance to be safely whitened as some patients do react to the chemicals or have sensitive teeth. This is all taken into consideration when they see a dentist first for an examination.

"However, if you don't want to spend the extra money, simple steps like brushing your teeth twice a day to help prevent bacteria and plaque build-up, as well as rinsing your mouth with water after drinking dark liquids that stain your teeth, and having your teeth cleaned professionally at least twice a year, can also help with teeth discolouration."

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