‘Online teeth-whitening gels left me in pain’

Student Sam Delaney-Hall warns people about using home teeth-whitening kits.

Nottingham student Sam Delaney-Hall has warned of the dangers of using home teeth-whitening kits bought online.

This week consumer watchdog Which? revealed teeth-whitening gels it bought online contained dangerous levels of chemicals that could permanently damage teeth and gums.

At the same time, a survey by Healthwatch found lockdown and the pandemic have left thousands of people unable to access professional dentistry.

Many patients who can’t get appointments are buying teeth whitening kits which contain the strong chemical hydrogen peroxide that can burn gums and cause tooth loss.

Sam was left in agony after buying a kit from an online supplier – and mistakenly leaving whitening gel on his teeth for too long.

The 20-year-old student, who lives on Cromwell Street, said: “The kit contained two different coloured gels, one that was meant to be applied for two hours and another for an overnight application.

“I bought the kit a while before I ended up using it and mixed up the gels.

“I put the two-hour gel on overnight and for the following few days my teeth were incredibly sensitive. Every time I bit into something they hurt. Cold air and cold water hurt too.”

After a few days, the pain wore off and Sam believes he has done no lasting damage to his teeth. But he added: “I’ll certainly be thinking twice before I buy dental treatment online in future.”

The Which? report discovered one teeth-whitening kit available online had more than 300 times the recommended amount of hydrogen peroxide. Twenty out of 36 products it tested also contained illegal levels of bleach.

The kits were available from online stores such as Amazon, Ebay, Wish and Aliexpress, but have since been removed.

Home teeth-whitening products sold over the counter in the UK should not contain more than 0.1 per cent hydrogen peroxide, whereas application by professional dentists has a six per cent legal limit.

Dr Paul Woodhouse, from the British Dental Association said: “The UK regulations make no distinction between in-surgery whitening and the provision of home whitening kits.

“Due to serious concerns regarding the safety of sodium perborate and chlorine dioxide-based whitening products, these whitening agents should not be used.”

Dental professionals have to be registered with independent regulator the General Dental Council in order to perform teeth-whitening. People who perform teeth-whitening without being registered could face criminal charges and an unlimited fine.

This week’s Healthwatch England report said patients are waiting up to three years for a dental appointment, due to a backlog created by the pandemic.

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