Ulcer and burns warning over DIY teeth whitening kits

London: A leading cosmetic dentistry body today warned that some DIY whitening kits may cause chemical burns and ulcers.

As a result the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD), the professional body that represents UK cosmetic dentistry practitioners has issued its Whitening Safety Guidelines, to ensure patient protection and satisfaction. Earlier this year, the BACD published a survey that revealed over a quarter of Britons have had cosmetic dentistry treatments, whitening being the most popular.

Leading dentist and BACD Board member James Goolnik says: “Time, smoking, tea and coffee are just a few of the things that cause your teeth to yellow and discolour. Whitening is a bit like a facial in that it helps to unlock pores in your tooth so that stains are gently removed leaving teeth cleaner and brighter. Whiter teeth can take years off your appearance, and the effects, depending on your lifestyle, can last up to ten years. But just like people’s mouths, all whitening techniques are not created equal.”

The length of time whitening can last will depend on whether or not the person smokes or how much tea, coffee and red wine they drink. Although the teeth themselves will whiten, any fillings or crowns will remain the same colour and may need replacing to match the new lighter colour of the rest of the teeth.

Dr Goolnik comments: “All whitening is based on a hydrogen peroxide solution; the only difference in the hundreds of systems out there is the concentration and the way the solution is applied to your teeth. Not all of them are safe and it is essential people consult their dentist, as some whitening kits bought over the counter or abroad can cause permanent damage.”

Dr. Goolnik recently saw a patient, Tamara Morris, 27, who suffered painful mouth ulcers resulting from a whitening kit bought at a high street pharmacy.

Tamara, who works in a beauty salon said: “Although it burned my mouth slightly when first I used the gel, I thought this was normal. Afterwards, it hurt when I brushed my teeth, or when I drank anything hot. When I went to the dentist he discovered I had sores on my gums resulting from the treatment.”

According to the BACD, there are two main ways of ‘properly’ carrying out tooth whitening:

1. Tray based. The gel is placed in a custom made night-guard which is worn from one hour to overnight for 7-10 nights depending on the gel, provided by your dentist.

2. Surgery based – otherwise known as laser or power bleaching. Here, more concentrated gels are applied directly to your teeth and accelerated with heat or light (laser/power). Usually a one-hour appointment is needed with maintenance provided with top-up trays.


No whitening is permanent. Maintenance is needed to keep that bright smile.
Only a dentist can get your teeth to the maximum whiteness.
See a dentist first to check teeth are healthy before starting. Teeth and gums can become permanently sensitive if they are not healthy first.
There is no evidence that whitening toothpastes can actually whiten your teeth.
Whitening kits can at best do nothing and at worse some of those bought abroad or over the internet can actually harm your teeth as they contain acids/abrasives that can cause permanent damage.

About the BACD – www.bacd.com

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.