Health: The Hollywood Smile that could end in tears

According to Which?, consumers looking for a 'Hollywood smile' are at risk of permanently damaging their teeth and gums from beauty salons that are illegally offering teeth whitening services performed by therapists rather than trained dentists and using treatments containing potentially damaging ingredients above legal safe limits. In a Which? investigation, a reporter visited six salons across London and was offered:  

*misleading advice. He was told white spots that might occur after treatment were a 'normal' side effect when they are in effect chemical burns

*treatment with 'whitening lasers'. They have no proven effect

*illegal treatment. Three salons used chlorine dioxide instead of the hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide used in most tooth whitening treatments. It's a bleaching agent that can wreck tooth enamel. The other clinics visited used hydrogen peroxide in strengths from 0.6 to 10 per cent, which are above the legal limit.  

The Consumers Association recommends that noone should have their teeth whitened by anyone other than a dentist. If treatment does go wrong, they suggest, contact the General Dental Council at or on 020 7887 3800 and to go to the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry website at for further information.

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