A disturbing trend we've heard more about recently is the onslaught of illegal and under-qualified teeth whitening services popping up seemingly everywhere. Recently this type of service made headlines in the UK when a father and son team were charged with selling unsafe teeth whitening kits without a medical license. The home kits were sold through trade shows and deceptively claimed to be used by dental professionals (they weren’t), and when tested by trading standards officers (kind of like the UK’s version of the FTC) the active ingredients were found to contain 146 times the legal limit of peroxide! That’s enough peroxide to cause some serious tooth and gum damage- and one of the many reasons you should always get your teeth whitened by a medical professional.
While situations like the one in the UK are rare in the United States, we are seeing a lot of tooth whitening practices appearing in shopping centers and spas. These "clinics" often charge very little and look official, but did you know that most of them are not associated with dentists- or anyone with even a little bit of dental training? It's become more common to visit an outlet mall and see a kiosk offering teeth whitening for only $99. Sounds like a great deal, until you consider you’re getting your teeth whitened in the middle of a crowded mall, most likely by someone with no formal dental training, or idea what they’re doing. You don’t even know that they’re operating the equipment correctly, or if the equipment has been properly sanitized. Unfortunately, anyone can get a laser whitening machine and get ‘certified’ to operate it relatively quickly - and it’s entirely legal. But just because they’re certified to use the machine, and just because it’s not breaking any laws, doesn’t mean it’s ethical.
So why go to a dentist? Is it worth the added expense? In a word, yes. For starters, if your teeth aren’t healthy enough to withstand whitening, your dentist will tell you. Every whitening procedure done in our dental practice starts with a preliminary exam to assess the health of the teeth and gums. This can prevent a lot of unnecessary pain and expense. Unfortunately, a healthy mouth doesn’t guarantee your treatment will go perfectly, though. Sometimes there are unforeseen complications that cause discomfort or injury during your procedure. If that were to happen at a med spa, what could a licensed massage therapist do to help you? Chances are not much- and most likely you’ll find yourself needing to visit the dentist’s office anyway. Having your whitening done in a safe, clean, sterile environment by a licensed medical professional eliminates unnecessary risk from your procedure. In this case, if something does go wrong at your dentist’s office, your dentist is a doctor – he or she is trained in how to treat any injuries caused by the treatment, and can prescribe appropriate medication if required.
Professional whitening is an investment in your smile. The adage ‘you get what you pay for' applies to medical procedures too. It may cost more to get your teeth whitened at your dentist’s office, but in the long run, it will pay for itself with peace of mind. For more information about teeth whitening to schedule an appointment for teeth whitening with Dr. Hill, please call the office at 469-640-9551.