Cosmetic Dentistry has come a long way. It's a booming, multi-billion dollar industry …getting your pearly whites to look well, Pearlier and whiter!
We are now spoilt for choice with hi-tech lasers, whitening pens, gels, strips... even pain-free veneers called "lumineers". It can cost as little as a couple of dollars from the chemist, to a couple of thousand in the dentist's chair.
But with so many products and procedures flooding the market how would you know what works and what's safe?
An internet video posted on Youtube shows just how easy it is to apply teeth whitening remedies at home …from baking soda to apple wine vinegar and even more alarmingly, 100% hydrogen peroxide.
Dr Tim Goh from Oxford Dental says, “…some of the peroxides that you use for commercial purposes or for cleaning purposes they actually can kill you, they are dangerous things”.
In an industry lacking regulation or licencing from the Therapeutic Goods Administration it's no wonder horror stories are starting to emerge.
Adrienne Matthews worked for a teeth whitening business however when she tested one of the "do it yourself" kits she was selling, on herself, she became her own unhappy customer.
“It took 3 weeks for the blisters to go away and I still have got scars on my lips,” says Adrienne.
Dr Don Wilson from the SA Dental Board says there's little to smile about with a growing number of beauty salons using lax laws to buy and operate teeth whitening equipment.
“What potential is there for harm, what concentrations are being used, are there cases out there that we're not hearing about? They should be done in a dental clinic or setting,” says Dr Wilson.
At “Beyond White Spa”, all their qualifications come from just watching a video
“I don't think a half hour dvd is going to be adequate to teach anyone. Is the procedure going to work for them, is the procedure going to go well for them and how to deal with a problem if it occurs?” says Dr Goh.
Chris Comans from the Council of Cosmetic teeth whitening says teeth whitening is becoming a political issue, which it shouldn't be really, because the products they’re using are all cosmetic products not dental products.
“Actually we've heard of quite a few incidences where, and I myself have dealt with the issues, where the Dental Board have sent out threatening letters to beauty salons saying that they are performing dental procedures and that if they continue that they would be taken to court and to please stop immediately,” says Chris.
Certainly it's a lot cheaper going to a beautician. Some procedures start at just $150 dollars, while dentists charge on average between $600 and $950 dollars.
Dr Tim Goh says for the safest and most effective, long term results, there is no debate, dental procedures win hands down.
“The technology has got better, the machines are safer, some of the new ones don't use the ultra violet systems which some of the older systems use and we’re not using anything which can say, heat the teeth up or do that kind of damage. Nowadays we have laser technology where we don't need to use needles and drills to do not just fillings but for cosmetic gum lifts and those sorts of procedures,” says Dr Goh.
But when the bill comes you'll just have to grin and bear it...