The Irish Dental Association has warned patients of the danger of many tooth whitening products saying many of them range from “useless to dangerous”. The Association has also expressed its concern about unsupervised tooth whitening.
The warning coincides with new plans from the European Commission to regulate the use of hydrogen peroxide, the chemical used in tooth whitening.
Under the new regulations, which should come into force next month, only qualified dentists will be permitted to provide this service.
Tom Feeney, IDA representative on the Council of European Dentists, and a Dublin based dentist believes regulation of the sector is long overdue and said the new measures would safeguard patient safety which is the number one priority.
“Dentists are fully qualified to carry out a full oral examination, make a diagnosis on the basis of that examination and the patient’s full dental history and then decide if the use of a tooth whitening product is appropriate. Other people practicing tooth whitening do not have the ability to do that and the use of tooth bleaching products may be totally inappropriate and may cause serious problems. There are also issues to do with infection control, the safe disposal of contaminated waste and indemnity insurance issues so we hope the Minister for Health will fully support this measure” Mr Feeney said.
Mr Feeney warned that some teeth whitening products available on the internet contain high levels of hydrogen peroxide and these could be lethal in the wrong hands. At the other end of the scale some products contain very low levels of hydrogen peroxide and these are next to useless. The new regulations will ensure that properly qualified dentists are carrying out what is a dental procedure and that safe products are being used.
“Tooth whitening is a safe procedure if carried out by a dentist and maintaining good dental health should always be the priority. We don’t recommend it for pregnant women or children under 16 years of age” Mr Feeney concluded.