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Teeth whitening supplied by an unregistered non-dentist whitening practitioner (09HDC02164)

Download Teeth whitening supplied by an unregistered non-dentist whitening practitioner (09HDC02164) (PDF 141Kb)

(09HDC02164, 3 March 2011)

Teeth whitening practitioner ~ Teeth whitening ~ Pain ~ Burning gums ~ Gingival recession ~ Exposed root surface dentine ~ Information

A woman complained about teeth whitening services supplied by an unregistered non-dentist whitening practitioner. Before the teeth whitening, she had her teeth scaled and polished by a dental hygienist. The information given to the woman before the teeth whitening warned of the possibility of whitening of the gums or gum line, and said that this side effect would be temporary. The woman was aware that the practitioner was not a dentist.

The woman stated that during the procedure she suffered pain, which she thought was normal. After the procedure, part of her gums turned white and she had severe mouth pain and burning gums. The pain continued until the next day. The pain appeared to have been caused by the woman having gingival recession and exposed root surface dentine.

When advised of the pain, the teeth whitening practitioner suggested that the woman return for a "professional clinical evaluation"; however, the woman had lost confidence in the teeth whitening practitioner and did not wish to return.

The teeth whitening practitioner subsequently amended the information to warn consumers that carrying out teeth whitening too soon after scaling and polishing may result in discomfort and advised clients to wait 14 days after scaling and polishing before undergoing teeth whitening.

The Commissioner recommended that the teeth whitening practitioner amend the information given to clients to include advice to obtain an oral health certificate from a registered dentist or dentist specialist prior to undergoing teeth whitening.

There is no legal requirement for teeth whitening to be performed by a dentist. The teeth whitener was not a dentist, but was trained and certified by the parent organisation that supplied the system used. In light of the risk that clients could be misled by the teeth whitener's assertions of having professional training and qualifications, this aspect of the matter was referred to the Ministry of Health.

It was noted that ERMA New Zealand is proposing to amend the specified dental products group standards to provide that dental products containing or releasing more than 3.6% hydrogen peroxide can be obtained by a member of the public only from a dentist.

This case highlights the risks of teeth whitening being carried out by persons who are not qualified to assess consumers' teeth or form conclusions whether their teeth are suitable for teeth whitening.

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