The Best and the Worst Teeth Whitening

Last February I posted a blog entry called “Teeth Whitening at the Mall.”  I spoke about the dangers of having whitening (a dental procedure) done by unlicensed individuals. I mentioned that the State of Tennessee had outlawed this practice and that I hoped New York State (and that includes Long Island) would follow the standards set by Tennessee and outlaw the illegal practice of dentistry in the state’s malls.

Here we are just one year later, and New York State has done just that in their new guidelines just published! The guidelines from the New York State Board For Dentistry state:

“Recently, consumers in New York State have been exposed to a significant number of products involving teeth whitening. While certain over-the-counter products may be safe, other products available for self application or through retail outlets have the potential to cause harm.

“Underlying dental health conditions may make a patient a poor candidate for certain teeth whitening processes. These processes may not be effective, and may actually do harm to a patient’s teeth and gums. The application of teeth whitening products in a retail outlet, not subject to the infection control requirements of a dental office, creates a risk of disease transmission for the consumer and individuals working in such an establishment.

“The application of teeth whitening products by or with the assistance of someone who is not a licensed dentist or dental hygienist may constitute the illegal practice of the profession of dentistry, which is a crime. The State Board for Dentistry office will refer any allegations of the illegal practice of dentistry to the Office of Professional Discipline for investigation.

“Individuals should consult with a licensed dental health professional and have their overall dental health evaluated before making decisions regarding teeth whitening products and services.”

Read more about teeth whitening.

You probably already know that dark foods such as red wine, grape juice and berries can stain your teeth. But a study done recently at NYU demonstrated that white wine could also contribute to darker teeth. How so? Well, it turns out that it is not only the dark pigment in foods that stains teeth, but it is the acid in the wine that roughens and erodes the enamel. The eroded enamel holds a stain more readily than smooth enamel. Other acidic drinks such as sodas will also erode the enamel and thus contribute to stained teeth. Teeth whitening products may be a quick fix but not a long-lasting solution. Diet modification is in order!

Patients often come to our Suffolk County, Long Island Dental Office to ask about tooth whitening. We do successfully whiten teeth. First we do a careful assessment of the cause of the stains, and we then recommend an appropriate teeth whitening procedure. For more information check out my webpage on tooth whitening.

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Have you noticed those teeth whitening kiosks at the mall? These kiosks are manned by unlicensed individuals who are hired by “tooth whitening companies.” These salespeople take a weekend training session and then go out to the mall to sell white teeth. This is a big problem. Whitening teeth is a dental procedure and it requires knowledge to recognize when whitening is appropriate for a given patient. Before whitening teeth, a dental practitioner needs to recognize gum disease, decay, stained fillings, and other oral conditions. Dentists go to dental school, to dental residencies, and take long hours of continuing education in order to be proficient in their field.

The State of Tennessee has taken the lead in requiring whitening treatments to be performed only by licensed dentists, dental hygienists, or registered dental assistants supervised by a dentist. The unanimous ruling was recently handed down by the Tennessee Board of Dentistry because of complaints to the state about the kiosks. The board oversees and regulates dental safety issues in the state. For our public safety, lets hope that New York State (and that includes Long Island) will follow the standards set by Tennessee and outlaw the illegal practice of dentistry in the state’s malls!

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What Price Beauty: The Cost of Teeth-Whitening
I was recently interviewed for an article on teeth whitening on the website Mainstreet.  The article is a very good summary of bleaching options available. Check out the link to learn what I have to say about teeth whitening.  I also have reprints in the office.

I just came back from two fabulous weekends of learning at The Rosenthal Institute‘s Aesthetic Advantage Program at the New York University College of Dentistry. While I was there I studied the latest cosmetic techniques with the best dentists in the U.S., techniques that I brought back with me to my Long Island dental office. It was an inspiring experience.

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