Many tooth whiteners are advertised on Web sites, television infomercials and the radio, as
well as in magazines and newspapers. The American Dental Association (ADA) is concerned
about the safety of tooth-whitening chemicals and procedures that are performed without the care
or supervision of a licensed dentist. The ADA recommends that if you choose to have your teeth
whitened or use a bleaching product, you should do so only after consulting with a dentist. If the
chemicals used to whiten teeth are not applied properly, they could damage soft and hard tissues
in the mouth.
Recently, tooth-whitening kiosks have appeared in malls and salons. In at least one state, these kiosks have been banned. Although they may be staffed with people wearing “scrubs” or laboratory coats who may look like health care professionals, that often is not the case.
Staff running the tooth-whitening kiosk may have no health care training and no license to provide health care services. However, they are dispensing chemicals that could permanently affect your
teeth and gingivae (gums).
INFECTION CONTROL TECHNIQUES
Dental office staff members are trained in infection control techniques that follow the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines. The guidelines include such procedures as
changing examination gloves and disinfecting work surfaces after each patient visit, washing
hands and following other infection control procedures.
Talk with your dentist about the pros and cons of different whitening treatments and what may
be right for you. He or she may suggest a simple procedure that can be performed in the dental
office. This procedure is called “chairside bleaching” and may require more than one office
visit. Each visit may last from 30 minutes to one hour. Your dentist also may dispense a product
for daily use at home for a period of weeks. White, bright teeth are desirable, but having a
healthy smile is more important. Your dentist can help you achieve not only a whiter, more attractive
smile, but one that is healthy and contributes to your overall health.