Whiter teeth and home whitening kits are increasing in popularity. A dentist in Norwich warns of the potential dangers.
Last year the sales for home bleaching kits went up by 500% for men alone. This increasing popularity in the need for whiter teeth is likely a result of people trying to emulate the perfect teeth of celebrities. Google trends shows that since 2005 internet searches for 'teeth whitening' has seen a steady rise and last month there were over 33,000 searches of 'teeth whitening' in the UK.
The desire for white teeth has led to thousands of people whitening their teeth at shopping centres and beauty salons. This is illegal if it is not supervised by, or carried out by a properly trained dental professional.
A dentist in Norwich, Dr Bim Sawhney, explains that whiter teeth don't mean healthier teeth: "Teeth darken with age and lifestyle but like hair and skin, teeth can vary in colour form an early age. Some are yellower or darker than others, even when they are quite healthy. Home whitening kits can sometimes damage teeth. If they are not lightened professionally - people are often better off leaving them their natural colour."
The British Dental Association (BDA) also warn it is a risky treatment to be carried out away from a dental surgery. This is supported by increasing numbers of people have suffered damage to their teeth and swollen, sore and bleeding gums from using teeth whitening products.
Like all dentists, dental hygienists and dental therapists, the dentist in Norwich use lasers or bleach to whiten teeth. By applying hydrogen peroxide to the teeth, it gets oxygen into the enamel and lightens it. Last year, the EU ruled that only qualified dental practitioners were allowed to use bleaching gel on teeth. Alternative methods tend to be risky and are not as effective, or as instant hydrogen peroxide. The EU also recommend that anybody wanting their teeth whitened should see a dentist beforehand.