BDA and Which? highlight the risks from buying teeth whitening products online
For safety reasons the British Dental Association has long advised the public to be wary of teeth whitening products bought online or over-the-counter, and welcomes a new analysis by Which? that alarmingly reveals that some whiteners tested contained 300 times the legally permissible amount of hydrogen peroxide.
The Which? report highlights that two products the consumer body tested – both teeth whitening gel-filled syringes bought from sellers on AliExpress – contained dangerously high levels of hydrogen peroxide: around 30% hydrogen peroxide or 300 times the amount that can be legally sold directly to consumers on the high street or online.
The Which? report also reveals that 21 of the 36 teeth whiteners tested from online marketplaces contained more than the legal amount of hydrogen peroxide (0.1%) permitted for home use in teeth whitening kits. 11 of the 36 products contained more than 6% hydrogen peroxide, which is the limit dentists are allowed to administer.
While the offending products have been removed from online sellers, the BDA agrees with Which? that these findings raise further questions over the checks and monitoring carried out by online marketplaces. The consumer champion is calling for the government to give online marketplaces legal responsibility for the safety of products sold on their sites.
Until then, these platforms need to enhance their checks before including sellers on their sites; and take strong action against those who break the law by selling dangerous products. The BDA is pleased that Which? has shared its findings with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) for further investigation.
Which? wants to see the OPSS urgently address these gaps in legal responsibilities as part of its review of product safety – and in the meantime, it should make sure marketplaces remove illegal products from sale as quickly as possible and ensure they do not reappear.
In developing its report, the BDA advised Which? on the law that relates to the use of hydrogen peroxide by dentists (and hygienists and therapists on the prescription of a dentist) and in products that are sold directly to the public.
BDA board member, Paul Woodhouse, who features in the Which? video, warns the public of the dangers of buying teeth whiteners that fail to declare their precise chemicals and may cause permanent damage to teeth.
He explained: “Hydrogen peroxide is a seriously strong chemical and not to be messed with. Dentists are trained in its use and they also know what whitening products are both effective and safe for teeth and gums.
“If you destroy gum tissue, you are never going to get it back and you lose your teeth. If it penetrates the surface of your tooth, which is likely, it's probably going to lead to the death of that tooth."
For safe effective teeth whitening, the BDA advises the public to see their dentist.