Very few people naturally have brilliant-white teeth, but that has done little to dampen the demand for a lighter, brighter smile. Teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments around. It can offer fantastic results and it’s relatively inexpensive, with solutions to suit most budgets.
In the media we’re regularly presented with beautifully aligned, dazzling smiles, but in amongst the glossy photos are the articles that paint a less positive picture of teeth whitening – most notably the stories of illegal teeth whitening.
The law on teeth whitening
Unfortunately teeth whitening has become a victim of its own success. Industries and professions outside of dentistry quickly jumped on the bandwagon and started providing whitening treatments of their own.
Unfortunately some were less scrupulous than others, so to address this problem and the general lack of control surrounding teeth whitening, an EU Council Directive (2011/84/EU) came into force in the UK on 31st October 2012.
This provided some clarity on who could provide teeth whitening treatments and the strength of the products that could be used by professionals and sold over the counter.
The regulations state that:
• Patients must be aged 18 or over before they can undergo professional whitening
• They must be deemed suitable for treatment by a dentist
• Bleaching gels can contain a maximum of 6% hydrogen peroxide
• Treatment must be provided by a dentist; or by a dental hygienist or dental therapist, under the direct supervision of a dentist
Excessive exposure to hydrogen peroxide can damage tooth enamel, but providing the EU guidelines are followed and treatment is supervised by a qualified dentist, teeth whitening is very safe.
It is now illegal for other professions such as beauticians to offer teeth whitening treatments. If in doubt, you can check your provider’s credentials on the General Dental Council’s website: www.gdc-uk.org.
How to whiten teeth safely
Professional teeth whitening kits
We offer professional home teeth whitening at Sensu, which offers fantastic, safe results and gives you full control over your treatment.
Home whitening kits consist of custom-made bleaching trays and whitening gel. Simply fill your trays with a small amount of whitening gel, as instructed by your clinician, and wear them for the required amount of time, usually overnight.
The whitening gel that we supply contains carbamide peroxide, which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. It may take a few days before you start to see results, but ultimately home whitening is just as effective as laser whitening.
Are over-the-counter teeth whitening products effective?
There are hundreds of over-the-counter products available that claim to whiten teeth, but how effective can they be given that by law they can only contain up to 0.1% hydrogen peroxide. The answer is, unfortunately, not very.
You might see a slight reduction in surface stains, but the results won’t be on par with professional whitening. You should be cautious of whitening treatments that work by ‘exfoliating’ your teeth and physically rubbing away stains. These can damage your protective enamel and cause sensitivity.
Whitening sensitive teeth
On the subject of sensitivity, if you suffer from sensitive teeth you can still whiten them. Your dentist will discuss the most appropriate treatment as well as tactics to help minimise your sensitivity.
For more information on safe teeth whitening, please visit: www.safetoothwhitening.org, or if you’d like to hear more about the whitening treatments available at Sensu, why not book a free no-obligation consultation*.