Here’s the key graphic as discussed in my lecture for Colgate. Click the image to view full size.
There are always hot topics in dentistry, and at the moment there is considerable focus on Teeth Whitening. When BBC Breakfast TV got involved, the call came in for a media friendly dentist . It was a week or so ago, and we had a lively debate on the red sofas.
But let’s get one thing straight first of all. It is illegal and very dangerous for anyone other than a qualified dental professional to carry out tooth whitening. You cannot do this if you are a beautician.
Why? Because the chemicals used to whiten the teeth, could permanently damage the teeth and gums. We have to protect the public against this type of damage. So, the person providing the treatment must be fully dentally qualified and registered with the General Dental Council.
That’s not bad news! Nowadays, aesthetic dentistry features heavily in the average dentist’s workload. Also, who better to give you a dazzling smile than someone who trained for many years? Someone who understands the structures of the mouth. Someone who can recognise dental disease and prescribe the correct treatments for each patient.
So what is the appeal of Teeth Whitening treatments? Our smile is a wonderful and unique characteristic. We want to display it as often as possible, without being self-conscious. Today, very few people have brilliant-white teeth. In fact, our teeth become more discoloured the older we get.
Tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth. This is done without removing any of the tooth surface. It cannot make a complete colour change, but it may lighten the existing shade. Professional bleaching is the most usual method of tooth whitening but is not suitable for everyone.
Your dental team will be able to tell you if you are suitable for the treatment. There is now also laser whitening or ‘power whitening’. The effects of whitening are thought to last up to three years. However, this will vary from person to person. The effect is less likely to last as long if you smoke, or eat or drink products that can stain your teeth.
Your dental team will give you their informed and qualified opinion before you start the treatment. They will use products that have been thoroughly tested for many years. Products, proven to work without being harmful to the teeth or gums.
At best, other untested products that you may be using will not be effective and at worst, they could cause permanent damage.
This is why there is no maximum fine for unqualified people who carry our illegal tooth whitening. They are risking much more than the health of the public.
Done properly by qualified dental staff, teeth whitening is great. It often does wonders for our self-esteem and confidence. But if you have concerns over an illegal tooth whitening provider or have experience of illegal tooth whitening, then you can contact the Tooth Whitening Information Group (TWIG) through their website (www.safetoothwhitening.org) who will send any evidence to the General Dental Council (GDC), who may decide to prosecute.
It’s great to be the media friendly dentist and get the chance to represent the profession on TV.