Teeth Whitening: Why The Australian Dental Association Is Calling For Tougher Laws To Protect Consumers
Teeth Whitening is a service offered by many dental practitioners, but dentists are not the only source of teeth whitening products or services in Australia. Whitening toothpastes can be purchased from any supermarket or pharmacy. Tooth whitening kits can be found for sale on the Internet. There are even beauty therapists and people in shopping-mall ‘bleaching booths’ who offer whitening services.
In recent months, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have acted to control the distribution and availability of DIY Teeth Whitening products in Australia, which has resulted in the recall of a number of fairly well-known products that contained more than 6% concentration of hydrogen peroxide or 18% concentration of carbamide peroxide on the basis that these were unsafe. Such products had been seen to cause injuries such as chemical burns to the gums and mouth, tooth sensitivity, headaches and unnaturally-coloured teeth.
This action has not yet prevented unqualified people in beauty salons and bleaching booths from offering teeth whitening to the general public. Teeth whitening causes irreversible chemical changes to the teeth and thus must only be offered to people whose dental health will not be adversely affected by whitening. In cases when it is provided, its effects must be closely monitored. This activity falls within ‘the practice of dentistry’, and the Australian Dental Association argues that only appropriately qualified individuals should be given the responsibility for providing teeth whitening services to the Australian public.
The ADA will also make a submission to the Advisory Committee on Chemical Scheduling about reclassifying teeth whitening products as Schedule 4- Prescription Only Medications. The ADA argues that until this occurs, there will be a continued risk of injury and irreversible damage to the health of members of the public. The submission states:
“Adding OTC (Over The Counter) DIY teeth whitening products with these substances (hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide)to Schedule 4 would best ensure the safety of those consumers exposed to these products while at the same time allowing only those with appropriate accreditation and qualifications to access them. “
The Australian Dental Association’s submission to the Advisory Committee on Chemical Scheduling can be found here:
The dentists of the Corinna Dental Group support the Australian Dental Association’s stance on Teeth Whitening products, believing that application of strong teeth whitening products to human teeth must only ever be done when such application will not cause damage. They agree that the diagnostic and clinical skills necessary to provide teeth whitening services safely can only be acquired through a university-level dental course.