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Teeth whitening: legal considerations 21-02-2017

With thousands of us aspiring to have dazzling white smiles, many people now consider the whitening of their teeth to be an established part of their regular self-care routines. For many, having teeth just that little bit whiter, and free from stains caused by certain foods and drinks, gives a powerful confidence boost. However, while there are many products available on the market, and seemingly multiple ways to achieve that pearly white look, it’s important to make sure that you are well informed and know the ins and outs of the legislation surrounding tooth whitening. This will help you to achieve the results you are looking for, whilst keeping safe at the same time. Today we are bringing you some of the key facts about tooth whitening, which we hope will help you to consider you next steps in your quest for an improved smile.

What exactly is tooth whitening?

Whilst we are all individual, and have different risk factors, our teeth can become discoloured as we age. Drinks such as tea, coffee and red wine can make this happen more quickly, and certain foods can also increase the rate at which our teeth discolour. When we whiten our teeth, we endeavour to lighten the natural colour of our teeth, whilst keeping the surface of the tooth intact. Whitening your teeth won’t lead to brilliant white teeth, but the overall shade can be lightened.

What does it involve?

Following an examination with your dentist, they will be able to talk you through the options that may be available to you. The most common method used is professional bleaching. This involves a product being applied to your teeth using a bespoke tray, which fits into your mouth like a gum-shield. The active ingredient of this product is usually hydrogen peroxide or caramide peroxide. You wear this tray for a set amount of time, as agreed with your dentist. Your treatment lasts approximately three to four weeks and includes dental visits, and treatment which you carry out at home.

As well as professional bleaching, other treatment options include laser, or ‘power whitening’, which has much more rapid results, and other products which are applied to your teeth for longer periods of time, but which have quicker results.

Who can whiten my teeth?

It is important to be wary of beauty salons and other companies that claim to offer a whitening service: Tooth whitening can only legally be carried out by a qualified and registered dentist, a dental hygienist, or a dental therapist who is working to the prescription of a dentist.

What about over-the-counter home kits?

You may have noticed that teeth whitening kits seem to be readily available in many high street stores. However, these products are restricted in the amount of the active ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, that they can legally contain (only 0.1%). This amount of hydrogen peroxide is actually far too low to actually have any effect on the colour of your teeth. Dentists, on the other hand, are able to use products with up to 6% of this ingredient: a concentration which is much more effective. So whilst the over-the-counter products may seem like a cheap solution, they are unlikely to have any real effect on the overall appearance of your teeth.

Is there any other legislation I need to be aware of?

All patients undergoing tooth whitening must be over 18 years of age. The dentist must have carried out a full examination prior to treatment beginning to check for risks.

To conclude, if you’re considering whitening your teeth, it’s important to think carefully about your options, and carry out your research before committing to a course of action. Whilst special offers in shops may seem appealing, these may not lead to the improvement you’re looking for. Likewise, high street salons offering this service could actually cause damage to your teeth and gums by using the wrong products, in an unsafe manner.

Here at Ock Street we offer a range of tooth whitening options, and are happy to advise on our services. Contact us today to book a consultation.

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