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October Newsflash

05 July 2010

Beauty Therapist fined for teeth whitening

The Melbourne newspaper, The Age reported yesterday (1/10/09) that a beauty therapist was fined $2000 for injuring a patient by tooth whitening in August 2007. The board reported that the customer suffered severe mottling and marbled teeth, gum ulcerations and chemical burns.

The trial of the beauty therapist, held in March, was the first time the legality of teeth whitening by an unregistered practitioner was tested in Australia. The therapist was convicted and fined on Wednesday at the Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court for practising dentistry while not being registered as a dental care provider.

Magistrate Jill Crowe said tooth whitening was an “invasive and irreversible procedure” and should only be performed by registered dental care providers. The Melbourne magistrate has effectively ruled that teeth whitening procedures must only be carried out by registered dentists.

The Dental Practice Board of Victoria brought the charge against the beauty therapist after a customer complained following a tooth whitening procedure in August 2007.

A board spokesman said the ruling set a precedent and would ensure that tooth whitening was only performed by people with dental training.

”Dentists have to comply with quite strict codes of practice around infection control and have their practices up to a certain standard. But the infection control practices of these people who are not registered and are not controlled, we would say could be a potential danger,” the spokesman said.

The Cosmetic Physicians Society backs the Dental Association’s view that only dentists have adequate dental training to diagnose oral health problems, such as gum disease or tooth decay, which increase the health risks of bleaching.

The most common chemical used in bleaching is hydrogen peroxide – considered hazardous in concentrations of 5 per cent or more. ”With the chemical there is also the possibility of damage to gums, it can burn … There are various concentrations of this stuff and we say that the concentrations used by these bleaching clinics is potentially dangerous,” the Dental Practice Board spokesman said.

The Age reported that the beauty therapist had applied a bleaching cream containing 6 per cent peroxide to a client’s teeth as part of a whitening procedure.

Here are some facts about teeth and whitening:

  • Adult teeth contain a mix of yellow, red and grey colours – there is no one correct colour. Healthy teeth darken and yellow with age.
  • The gleaming teeth of models and TV personalities often are the result of digital manipulation or porcelain veneers.
  • Discolouration stems from surface stains – tars in tobacco, tannins in tea and coffee or coloured food – or “internal” stains in the tooth structure.

Whitening is a very commonly used procedure with thousands of adults undergoing the procedure every year. However, there are precautions that must be taken during in-chair whitening and we are glad that no more patients will be injured by non dental trained operators.

The formulations that we use here at Cosmic Smile Dental for the take-home tray whitening are safe and will not damage the gums. They are a carbamide peroxide at 10% to 22% which is not damaging in the same way that 6% hydrogen peroxide is. Typically patients would wear the trays for two hours at a time with the worst side effect being sensitivity for a short time after.

The Zoom whitening treatment that we use is the most popular form of ‘laser’ whitening on the market and also one of the strongest. It uses 25% hydrogen peroxide which can make the teeth very sensitive temporarily and cause chemical burns when used incorrectly. This is why we are specially trained in the use of these solutions and there is an extensive protocol used to protect the eyes and completely isolate the roots surfaces, gums and lips and soft tissues.

The effects of whitening can be very dramatic and have profound effects on the wellbeing and self esteem of an individual. As dental professionals, your health is paramount with whitening just a part of the overall care. All whitening assessments include an exam before treatment, an explanation of the different options including tray or in-chair whitening, lumineers, crowns or veneers and a discussion of any potential contraindications.

The offers that we have at the moment include a complete exam, x-rays, cleaning and fluoride treatment with either tray whitening or in-chair Zoom whitening. And don’t forget that if you are a member of our Whitening for Life program you will receive FREE top-up whitening gel if you maintain your regular recare appointments.

Please call Jacklyn on 9904 2880 if you would like more information on any of our whitening treatments.