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Teeth Whitening via the Internet - Beware

Updated on June 26, 2011

Buying teeth whitening gel on the Internet is stupid. I tried for quite a long time to find a more tactful way to put that but purchasing medical products from an unlicensed source is too stupid for tact. It’s like buying cheap flights from a bloke who stops you in the street, or blindfolding your kids and getting them to race across the motorway – you might get away with it....

Even people who have had the sense to buy professional home whitening kits from a dentist are turning to the Internet for top-up gels. And a lot of them are regretting it.

Now I know there are people reading this who will say, ‘He would say that; he wants to protect his income.’ Well here’s a fact: in the last 6 months I have made almost three times as much from remedying misguided self-bleachings as I have from whitening teeth properly. An attempt to save a few quid can quickly turn into something much more expensive than it would have been to do the job properly in the first place.

Professional tooth whitening, carried out correctly, causes no harm. No structural changes are made to the teeth. Nothing is taken away or weakened. The same cannot be said for the work necessary to repair botched bleaching.

The recent kerfuffle in the press has focused on dangerously high concentrations of carbamide and hydrogen peroxide gels. These can cause chemical burns, leading to gum recession and all the problems that arise from that, and they can leave indelible brown marks on damaged enamel.

So what are the ‘cowboys’ doing to protect their business? They’re loading ultra strong gels (35% and more) into syringes marked ‘16% Carbamide Peroxide’. The idea is that these gels will work more quickly than real 16% gels and people will, therefore, think they’re better and buy more – and to hell with the damage they cause!

In addition to this, there are still a lot of acidic gels available, coming mainly from Eastern Europe. These almost instantly make the teeth look whiter by etching the enamel. Unfortunately, the whiteness is temporary but the loss of tooth structure is not.

Please, if you want whiter teeth, choose a safe way to get them. Don’t buy the equivalent of a ‘do-it-yourself landmine detector kit’. To paraphrase L’Oreal, you’re worth more than that.

For further advice on keeping your mouth healthy, beautiful and trouble-free, check out my book,

Watch Your Mouth - An Owner's Manual 


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