Teeth bleaching is a popular cosmetic treatment that many Australians routinely use to restore or enhance their smiles.
Although whitening treatments are considered safe if they’re performed by a dental professional or under their guidance, it’s important to be aware of the risks if you’re considering a treatment yourself. That’s because the materials involved are potentially hazardous if used improperly.
Who is suitable for teeth bleaching?
Tooth whitening treatments and products are only available to adults over 18. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends that anyone considering these treatments should first have a consultation with their dentist. They can give you an oral health assessment to check whether your teeth are healthy enough to be treated, or if you have a problem that needs to be dealt with first.
Bleaching treatments are only effective at covering up certain types of stains, such as teeth that have been yellowed by tea or coffee, red wine or natural ageing. They can’t whiten teeth that have been discoloured due to an injury, health problem or medication side-effects, and they can’t whiten crowns, fillings or other dental work.
Are treatments regulated?
Yes. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) restricts the sale of bleaching kits and products for home use that contain more than 6% hydrogen peroxide or more than 18% carbamide peroxide.
With higher concentrations, the risk of adverse effects such as damage to gum tissue increases. Hydrogen peroxide concentrations above 5% are designated a hazardous substance by WorkSafe Australia. Only registered dental professionals are permitted to use bleaching agents with a higher concentration in a clinical setting.
What are the risks?
Risks associated with the improper use of whitening products include severe irritation or chemical burns when hydrogen peroxide is exposed to the skin and other soft tissues. This can include the pulp inside the tooth if your tooth has small cracks. If hydrogen peroxide is swallowed, this may lead to bleeding or sudden distension.
If you choose a home whitening kit from your dentist, they will instruct you on its correct use to minimise these risks. It’s not recommended that you have a bleaching treatment at a beauty salon or purchase whitening products from a store, as these may carry a higher risk of damage to your teeth and gums and related health problems.
Are there any side effects?
Even if you follow your dentist’s instructions to the letter, you may feel some side-effects for a short time after the treatment. Your dentist will explain these to you during your consultation, so you can decide whether teeth bleaching is right for you.
It’s normal for your teeth to feel more sensitive to hot and cold for up to 48 hours after a bleaching procedure, or to feel sudden jolts in your teeth similar to an electric shock. These should go away on their own, but if you’re worried about side-effects or you want to relieve pain and sensitivity, you can talk to your dentist about soothing gels and other options.
Talk to our cosmetic dentists in Erskineville
If you want to know more about whitening treatments, contact our friendly team at Sydney Park Dental. We’re currently offering take-home whitening kits for $450, including 2 custom trays and 4 tubes of bleaching gel.
Call us on (02) 8084 7170 or contact us online to book a consultation today.
 Australian Dental Association (ADA). Policy Statement 2.2.8 – Community Oral Health Promotion: Teeth Whitening (Bleaching) By Persons Other Than Dental Practitioners [Online] 2011 [Accessed June 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Professionals/Policies/National-Oral-Health/2-2-8-Teeth-Whitening/ADAPolicies_2-2-8_TeethWhiteningByPersonsOtherThan
 ADA. Teeth Whitening: Getting the best result for your smile [Online] 2016 [Accessed June 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/getattachment/Your-Dental-Health/Resources-for-Professionals/Resources-for-Teens-12-17/Teeth-whitening-the-best-result-for-your-smile/Teeth-whitening,-getting-the-best-result-for-your-smile.pdf.aspx
 Australian Dental Association (ADA). Whitening, Crowns and Veneers [Online] 2017 [Accessed June 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Younger-Adults-18-30/Teeth-Whitening,-Crowns-and-Veneers