Wearing an attractive smile has become an important letter of introduction in today’s society. There are numerous procedures within dentistry to improve oral aesthetics and one of the most common is tooth whitening.
Given this growing social interest in having increasingly white teeth, dentists warn that whitening, although a minimally invasive technique, is not safe for health and alert to the risks of using bleaching products without control.
What does the legislation say?
Existing legislation states that concentration of hydrogen peroxide (the chemical compound most commonly used for tooth whitening) above 0.1% can only be distributed exclusively to dentists and that the product can only be used and applied by Dentists and stomatologists in a dental clinic.
A concentration equal to or less than 0.1% of hydrogen peroxide, present in various oral products sold directly to the consumer, is considered safe.
Despite the clarity of the rule, the General Council of Dentists has denounced on several occasions that there are products with high concentrations of bleaching agents that are sold directly to the public, which, in addition to being illegal, endangers health. Burns, mucosal changes or tooth sensitivity are some of the side effects.
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Before starting a whitening treatment it is necessary, firstly, to go to the dentist. He will be responsible for assessing the oral health of the patient, not only to decide the most appropriate treatment in each case but to rule out other oral health problems and avoid possible complications. If caries is present, for example, these must be treated before bleaching. In addition, this procedure is not recommended in patients with gingivitis or other periodontal diseases. Neither before nor immediately after a dental restoration treatment has been performed.
These are valuations that only the dentist can do. Also, the professional should also take into account other external factors such as smoking or alcohol, as they may enhance the potential toxic effects of hydrogen peroxide, recalls the Council of Dentists.
Types of Clinical Dental Whitening
The tooth whitening clinic can be done in consultation or at home. There are several types and the most frequent are the following:
- Photoactivation: takes place in a dental center. It is quick whitening whose results can be seen from the first session, with a clarification of up to 8 tones. It consists of placing a cover that protects the gums, the tongue, and the palate and then applies a whitening gel to achieve the desired effect.
- Whitening at home with gel: it is whitening that we can do at home but with the supervision of the dentist. Plastic splints are used in which a bleaching gel is applied, according to the dentist’s instructions.
- Mixed bleaching: It is a combination of the two above. By doing a whitening in the clinic and also another at home, a rinse of up to 10 tones is achieved and a longer duration of results.
- Internal bleaching: this is special whitening for specific cases in which a tooth loses color for some reason. During several sessions at the clinic, an internal bleaching is performed, which returns the color to match the rest of the teeth.
The General Council of Dentists warns that some of the whitening products sold to consumers also do not comply with the current legislation on labeling, and therefore recommends that they require the concentration and type of whitening active. With this information, they should check in the Sub-directorate General of Sanitary Products or Professional Associations of Dentists if the article they have purchased is authorized.
As for products with concentrations below 0.1% of hydrogen peroxide, these are safe for health, so its free distribution presents no risks, although its effectiveness as whitening is practically nil.