You want a whiter smile. That’s completely understandable. Whiter teeth inspire greater confidence. We also understand that you want to save money. With teeth whitening services springing up in malls, spas, and salons, there are plenty of opportunities to get your teeth whitened in convenient locations, without having to schedule an appointment with your dentist. But is it really worth it? Is it safe? What are the hazards of teeth whitening with these services? Here’s what you should know about whitening services found outside a dentist’s office.
What Are These Teeth Whitening Services and How Do They Work?
These mall kiosks and salon services generally involve a short process where an employee of the company puts a whitening gel in a bleaching tray and hands it to you, the customer. You place it in your mouth and they turn on a special light that is meant to accelerate the bleaching process. You wait there for about 20 minutes, and, afterward, you are expected to have teeth that are several shades whiter.
Non-Professional Teeth Whitening Dangers and Side Effects
It may seem like a great idea to get your teeth whitened at one of these kiosks or salons, but there are a variety of side effects and hazards of teeth whitening involved that you should know about:
These aren’t dentists.
Or dental hygienists. The people working at mall kiosks and salons typically don’t receive much education or training in the field – certainly not as much as a trained professional – regardless of whether or not they are wearing lab coats. You may think to yourself: “how hard is it to apply teeth whitening gel?” Not very, but it does require training to be able to spot sores, gingivitis, oral cancer and other conditions that may be exacerbated by the teeth whitening gel. This is not the only danger of teeth whitening done by non-professionals. The employees working at these kiosks don’t know how to handle patients with bruxism or TMD, conditions which whitening can make worse.
They can’t whiten intrinsic stains or fabricated teeth.
As a minor teeth whitening risk, if you have veneers, dental bonding, or crowns – especially on front-facing teeth – you should know that these materials don’t respond well to teeth whitening gels. If you want to have your teeth whitened, you’ll need to have the veneers or crowns re-made to suit your new tooth color. If you have intrinsic stains, meaning gray discolorations or discoloration from underlying layers of the tooth, the whitening done at these kiosks cannot reach these stains. To avoid a smile with mismatched colors, it’s best to consult your dentist.
Non-professional teeth whitening services aren’t regulated.
This fact is slowly changing, but it is still difficult to rely on these services because they are not regulated. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products typically have less than 10% hydrogen peroxide, the main ingredient in most whitening products. Only trained professional dentists and hygienists are permitted to use products with higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. However, due to the lack of regulation, it is difficult to be certain if a particular kiosk or salon is adhering to this rule, as some have been found to be using higher concentrations. As part of the teeth whitening risks involved in these types of services, higher levels of hydrogen peroxide could result in significantly increased gum sensitivity, damage to soft tissues in the mouth, and even oral burns.
Worried about the Dangers of Teeth Whitening Services?
Talk to your dentist about the in-office and take-home teeth whitening services they offer, and, if cost is a major factor for you, find out what at-home, over-the-counter treatments they recommend. Your dentist can identify any potential risks based on your personal and unique oral health, and they can recommend altered treatment plans accordingly. Over-the-counter treatments may not offer as dramatic results as dentist-provided treatments, but as long as you are guided by your dentist, you have a much lower risk of running into any of the above dangers of teeth whitening.
Our skilled dental experts are well-versed in teeth whitening procedures and would be happy to partner with you on your journey to a brighter smile. Contact us by calling (770) 505-9898 or fill out our short online form to schedule an appointment.