Every year, millions of pounds are spent on whitening products that claim to brighten up the smile but do they work? Are they safe? And what’s the difference between over the counter gels and treatments provided by dentists?
Recently, there has been a lot written about whitening products as the EU has cracked down on whitening treatment provided by non-dentists, as well as the use of illegal whitening products. In many cases, these products are sold online with a target audience of people who are looking for cheaper ways of lightening the shade of their teeth.
About over the counter whitening products
It is legal to buy over the counter whitening products that meet the required EU standards. However, there is debate as to the efficacy of these products. According to EU regulations, products that are available to the public must contain less than 0.1 percent hydrogen peroxide. Any products that contain a greater concentration of hydrogen peroxide should only be sold to trained, registered dentists like those at Freshdental.
Many dentists believe that such a low concentration of hydrogen peroxide is insufficient to bring about a significant change to the shade of the teeth and anyone who wants a noticeable change or a more dramatic makeover is generally advised to have professional treatment.
There may also be concerns about side-effects with over the counter products, as individuals do not undergo any testing prior to using the gels. Possible side-effects may include irritation, swelling, a burning sensation in the gums and heightened sensitivity.
Spotting the warning signs
If you see products available online that promise incredible results, boast high levels of bleaching agent or appear too good to be true in any way, the chances are that these products are illegal. If you think you may have bought an illegal whitening kit, you should contact the General Dental Council. Anyone who supplies illegal whitening treatment or sells illegal products is liable to prosecution.
Although online shopping is quick and easy, it’s usually best to avoid buying health products online, as it is much more difficult to regulate sellers and police products.
Who can offer whitening treatment?
You can buy whitening kits and whitening toothpaste from pharmacies and many supermarkets. However, whitening treatments that use strong bleaching agent (up to 6 percent hydrogen peroxide) must be administered by trained dentists who are registered with the General Dental Council. This means that treatments provided in shopping centres and beauty salons are not legal unless the person applying the whitening agent is a qualified dentist.
Treatment should only be provided for adults and a consultation should take place before treatment to check the individual’s oral health status and ensure they are a good candidate for whitening. Treatment should be carried out under the supervision of dental professionals.
Is it worth paying money for over the counter gels?
Many people choose to buy over the counter whitening products because they are considerably cheaper than professional treatment. However, with this kind of treatment, you get what you pay for and the treatments offered by dentists are much more powerful and effective than those you can buy over the counter. While there may be improvements, these will be much less noticeable than those achieved by professional treatment and the results will also last a lot longer, so they present a better long-term investment.
How can I find out more?
If you’re thinking of having your teeth whitened, it’s a good idea to book a consultation with a dentist to discuss your options and talk about the different types of treatment available. Many clinics offer free consultations with no obligation to pursue treatment and some also offer finance options enable you to spread the cost of any treatment you have.