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30 June 2015

The Dangers of DIY Teeth Whitening Kits

The Background

In 2011, Britons spent over £76 million on toothpastes that promise to whiten teeth. This is according to a Daily Mail article published in March of the same year. People who desire to whiten their teeth have three main options at their disposal: professional teeth whitening by a qualified dentist, treatment in beauty salons, or DIY home kits. Although a majority of the people who undergo teeth whitening have it done by a professional dentist, there’s a significant number that cannot afford specialized dental services and opt for DIY home kits. Unfortunately, the dangers of buying home teeth whitening treatments far outweigh their perceived benefits. Click the link for more information on safe Stourbridge Dental & Implant Clinic teeth whitening treatments .

chemical burns from teeth whitening

The Risks

Martin Fallowfield, a dentist and spokesperson for the British Dental Association, elaborates on the harmful contents contained in teeth whitening kits purchased online or administered in salons. He notes that some of them contain chlorine dioxide, an acid disinfectant commonly used for cleaning swimming pools. Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t include the harmful ingredient on their products’ labels. The acid can eat away the teeth, burn the gums, or destroy the enamel, causing teeth sensitivity.

Other home kits bought online contain hydrogen peroxide. This chemical compound is a strong oxidizing agent, which penetrates the porous enamel, and oxidizes the stains on a person’s teeth. The discoloration is eliminated when the stains react with oxygen, because they undergo a chemical change. The process is effective and harmless only when the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is within the permitted limits. The European Union has set a limit of 0.1% hydrogen peroxide in online and ‘off the shelf’ purchasable home whitening products, which UK retailers are supposed to comply with.

Stuart Johnston of the British Dental Association cautions against high doses of hydrogen peroxide, which could cause chemical burns to the mouth’s lining, if not protected. Home kits typically comprise of a mouth guard containing a bleaching gel. If the guard does not fit perfectly on the teeth, the gel may spill out and come into contact with the gums. This can cause teeth sensitivity, permanent gum recession, and blistering. Ingesting significant quantities of hydrogen peroxide can also lead to throat, gut, and stomach burns.

Some online products have been found to contain hydrogen peroxide at 150 times more than the permitted limit. In 2010, the Guardian highlighted such a product, -“LAwhite teeth whitening pen”. Amazon was selling the teeth whitener for £9.95 in the United Kingdom (U.K.). The product contained 35 percent carbamide peroxide, which was equivalent to 150 times the legal limit of hydrogen peroxide in whitening kits.

The majority of other teeth whitening products, especially toothpastes that do not contain hydrogen peroxide, use abrasive ingredients to achieve the same result. While the substitute may seem less risky, the abrasives may be too harsh on the teeth, causing significant damage to the enamel. This means that in attempts to avert whiten their teeth, a person can actually end up with permanent teeth damage. The irony of DIY teeth whitening products is that if used incorrectly, they could actually cause more teeth discoloration, the same problem they seek to eliminate.

Visit A Dentist First

A visit to the dentist is recommended for people who wish to have their teeth whitened. A dentist will conduct a professional mouth examination and cleaning. Sometimes an examination may reveal that teeth whitening is not necessary and that a person’s teeth require only a thorough cleaning to remove stains and make them white. A dentist will also check the teeth for cavities as these should always be treated before proceeding with the whitening procedures. The dentist also assesses the health of a person’s gums. In case of inflammation, it’s best to postpone whitening and seek treatment first. Finally, a dentist can create tailor made, personalised whitening kits and offer useful insight and advice on whitening teeth, and what to expect.


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