Dentists are alarmed at the growing number of Australians who are unwittingly risking permanent damage to their teeth and gums by allowing people with no formal dental training to attempt to whiten their teeth. Charmaine Yabsley investigates...

Teeth whitening - the inside word

Chairman of the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) Oral Health Committee, Dr Peter Alldritt, says the number of Australians whitening or bleaching their teeth is steadily rising, yet most people have little knowledge about the health risks surrounding whitening procedures, especially those delivered by people with no professional training in oral or dental care.

“There are numerous side effects associated with using chemicals to whiten your teeth, and some can be irreversible. Damage can include alteration of the enamel surface, reduced strength of resin-based filling materials, damaged and inflamed gums, chemical burns, blistering of mouth and gum tissues and severe tooth sensitivity. Inappropriate tooth whitening, and failure of proper diagnosis can also result in the appearance of multi-coloured teeth,” says Dr Alldritt (

BEST BEAUTY BET:  Only a dentist can assess a person’s suitability for teeth whitening by analysing natural enamel, white and porcelain fillings, gum irritation and sensitivity levels. Without this assessment, it is impossible to rule out any permanent side effects from whitening, including tooth damage, advises the ADA.

“Practising good oral hygiene is a basic way to assist in making your teeth look whiter naturally. And brushing and flossing your teeth daily assists in removing surface stains on your teeth,” Dr Alldritt says.

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