Top dentists warn over teeth whitening amateurs

London: Britain’s leading dental organisation, the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) today warned about the dangers of going to beauty salons and spas for teeth whitening treatments.

The organisation says it is seeing an increasing number of patients who have had unsuitable treatments. One patient recently seen by a BACD dentist suffered damage to the surface of her teeth, after having a whitening treatment done at a City salon. The substance used on 23-year-old Stephanie is not regularly used for whitening, and according to the BACD, the chemicals can actually dissolve the enamel instead.

Dr. Christopher Orr, dentist and President of the BACD said: “We are seeing many cases of people who, driven by either convenience or cheap pricing, choose to have their teeth whitened at local beauty salons or ‘spas’. Not only are the treatments performed by non-dentists, but some of these chemicals aren’t accepted material for this cosmetic use and could cause considerable damage.”

On the first week of January, Stephanie Ramezan, a City-based 23-year-old who works in financial markets, decided to have her teeth whitened at a local spa. She was surprised to find there were no dentists performing the treatment, only beauty therapists, and that the procedure was so cheap. She explains;

“I had been led to believe that teeth whitening can be expensive, over £300, but this was less than £200 – I asked the therapist and she said it was a special ‘New Year’ offer. I had checked out their website beforehand and it all seemed reputable, so I went ahead and booked the session.”

However, as soon as two days after undergoing treatment, Stephanie noticed her teeth seemed darker, rather than lighter. She went back to the salon to enquire why this would be, but the beauticians there were unable to help. They informed her that the doctor, who runs the spa, was away. Stephanie went back again, twice, on different dates but the doctor was never available. She then tried calling her directly several times, but was rebuffed.

Stephanie says:“I was shocked at how unprofessional they were. Even the beauticians recognised that my teeth looked darker but no one seemed to know what to do about it.”

Oliver Harman, a BACD dentist who later saw Stephanie, noticed the surface of her teeth seemed damaged. Justifiably incensed, she shared with him all the details of what had happened. Oliver, who is based at City Dentics, then looked into the websites of the salon and the whitening franchise they are part of, which has outlets around the UK. He was puzzled about their use of a substance called chlorine dioxide, which although an oxidising agent is not generally used for whitening (the acid involved, in fact, is usually recommended only for industrial cleaning or water purification).

He says: “What immediately worried me is that they seem to be using strong chemicals which include orthophosphoric acid, which is what dentists use to dissolve enamel when bonding fillings. In addition, they hadn’t even bothered to scrape the plaque off Stephanie’s teeth before bleaching, which is common practice so there can be an even finish.”

Oliver says:

“These cases, which are becoming more common, illustrate perfectly why dental treatments should be performed by appropriately qualified practitioners – and that means dentists, not beauty therapists.”

A third of Britons have had some form of cosmetic dentistry, and whitening is the most popular treatment. This year, the BACD launched the ‘Smiling for the World’ project, which involves the fee for any whitening treatments being donated in their entirety to ‘Facing the World’, a charity that benefits children with facial deformities. To find a reputable dentist, the public can access contact details for over 650 members at < ahref="">

About BACD

The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry is a not-for-profit, inclusive organisation for the advancement and ethical delivery of cosmetic dentistry, open to all dental professionals including dental technicians and hygienists. Their aim is to create a dynamic, active group of members from all areas of the dental team. The BACD, which has over 400 members, is affiliated with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the world’s largest organisation for cosmetic dental professionals