Illegal vs Legal Teeth Whitening – Know The Difference
At the end of 2018, the BBC published an article drawing attention to the dangers of illegal teeth whitening and highlighting that many people in the UK were getting their teeth whitened by non-dentists but were unaware of the dangers that this can cause. Below, we outline the differences between illegal and legal teeth whitening.
What constitutes ‘legal’ teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening can only ever be safe when carried out by a fully qualified medical professional such as a dentist registered with the GDC (General Dental Council). However, many individuals without such credentials are offering the treatment and some are even unaware that they are offering it illegally, putting patients in what can be potentially irrevocable danger. Such dangers include allergic reactions, swelling of the lips and tongue, and burning of the lining of the mouth and gums. Additionally, it is essential that your mouth is checked over in order to ascertain if there are any issues that need to be addressed before you go ahead with treatment and a dentist is the only person qualified to do this. Remembering that teeth whitening should be classed as a medical procedure rather than a cosmetic one is paramount in keeping your mouth healthy.
What is it that makes teeth whitening safe when performed by a dentist?
Teeth whitening must always be a custom treatment in order to be safe, which is how dentists perform it. The process starts with your dentist taking impressions of your teeth so that custom whitening trays can be created – these will be used to apply the whitening agent to your teeth. It is the custom whitening trays that make the procedure safe; when the trays are a one-size-fits-all fit the whitening agent can leak over onto your gums and cause the damage outlined above. The shade used will be chosen before the procedure takes place – your dentist will present you with a number of different shades and you will be able to choose the look that best suits your overall facial aesthetic. One common misconception to be aware of with teeth whitening is that it damages your tooth enamel. Whitening only removes surface stains that are in the microscopic pores of your teeth and the agent does not penetrate deeply within the tooth.
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