Important Teeth Whitening Update

Legislation regarding Teeth Whitening has been enacted in Ireland and comes into force in just a few weeks time… 31st October 2012. This important legislation finally brings certainty in regulating the sourcing and use of tooth whitening products.

The legislation is required to give effect to an amended EU Council directive (Council Directive 2011/84/EU. Tooth Whitening Directive) which was adopted late last year.

Here at Shelbourne Dental Clinic, we welcome the passing of the Directive which regulates the use of hydrogen peroxide, the chemical used in tooth whitening products.

It prohibits the use of tooth whitening products containing over 6% of hydrogen peroxide and stipulates that for products containing between 0.1% and 6%, a clinical examination and first treatment by a dentist will be required to ensure the absence of risk factors or oral pathologies, after which the patient will be able to continue the treatment by him or herself. The use of these products by persons younger than 18 years will not be allowed.

 It will still be permissible to use products with up to 16.62% Carbamide Peroxide (CP).

Tooth whitening products containing up to 0.1% of hydrogen peroxide will continue to be made available to consumers on the market.

The Irish Medicines Board is currently embarking on a public awareness campaign and is also planning to target what are deemed high risk providers (e.g. beauty clinics, hair salons) by way of inspections to enforce these new regulations.

The Dental Council has just written to all registered dentists advising them of the details of the new regulations and their implications for dental practice.

The Council of European Dentists – of which the Irish Dental Association is a member – had called repeatedly for appropriate regulation of tooth whitening products at EU level, in line with the advice from the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety.

Tooth whitening is a safe procedure if carried out by a dentist
Dr Tom Feeney, IDA representative on the Council of European Dentists, and a Dublin based dentist says the new measures enhanced patient safety and removed uncertainty as to how and by whom tooth whitening should be performed in the EU.

“Patient safety is the number one priority. To be effective a tooth whitening product has to have over 3% hydrogen peroxide and the new regulations from the European Council prohibit products containing over 6% hydrogen peroxide. The new regulations ensure that properly qualified dentists are carrying out what is a dental procedure, that safe products are being used, and that the treatment is restricted to those over 18” Feeney said.

The Irish Dental Association had previously warned of the dangers of some products available via the internet which contain high levels of hydrogen peroxide and which could be lethal in the wrong hands. At the other end of the scale, some products contain low levels of hydrogen peroxide and the IDA says these are ineffective.

“Tooth whitening is a safe procedure if carried out by a dentist but it’s a procedure which shouldn’t be repeated too often. As a rough guide once a year should be sufficient. We don’t recommend it for pregnant women or heavy smokers or drinkers as it can cause particular problems for each of these groups” Feeney concluded.

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