New Teeth Whitening Regulations

New EU regulations were brought into force this week which control the use of a chemical used in tooth whitening products. These regulations are warmly welcomed by everyone here at Shelbourne Dental Clinic and indeed by the entire dental profession in Ireland.

The new European Council directive is concerned with the regulation of the use of hydrogen peroxide (the agent which whitens teeth). Specifically, it bans the use of tooth whitening products which contain over 6% of the chemical. It states also that teeth whitening can only be carried out under the supervision of a dentist.

The directive also prohibits the use of teeth whitening products on people under the age of 18.

Last month, the Irish Dental Association (IDA) expressed serious concern about some teeth whitening products. It claimed that many of these products ranged from ‘useless to dangerous’. It also expressed concerned about unsupervised tooth whitening and insisted that only fully-qualified dentists should be allowed to provide such services.

Under this new directive, products that contain up to 0.1% of hydrogen peroxide will still be available to consumers. However, when it comes to products that contain between 0.1% and 6% of the chemical, a dentist must carry out a full clinical examination and the first treatment. After that, patients can continue the treatment themselves.

Commenting on the new directive, Dublin-based dentist and IDA member, Tom Feeney, said that patient safety ‘is the number one priority’ and this move will enhance that.

“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,” he said.

He pointed out that tooth whitening is a safe procedure ‘if carried out by a dentist’. However, he warned that it should not be carried out 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,” he added.

Each EU member state will have 1 year to incorporate the directive into national legislation following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

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