Monday 26th September 2011. The Irish Dental Association has welcomed the passing of a new European Council Directive which regulates the use of hydrogen peroxide, the chemical used in tooth whitening products.
The new directive prohibits the use of tooth whitening products containing over 6% of hydrogen peroxide and stipulates that tooth whitening can only be carried out under the supervision of a dentist.
The Council of European Dentists – of which the Irish Dental Association is a member – had called repeatedly for appropriate regulation of tooth whitening products at EU level, in line with the advice from the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety.
Following the European Council’s decision, tooth whitening products containing up to 0.1% of hydrogen peroxide will continue to be freely available to consumers. For products containing between 0.1% and 6%, a clinical examination and first treatment by a dentist will be required to ensure the absence of risk factors or oral pathologies, after which the patient will be able to continue the treatment by him or herself. The use of these products by persons younger than 18 years will not be allowed.
Tom Feeney, IDA representative on the Council of European Dentists, and a Dublin based dentist said the new measures enhanced patient safety and removed uncertainty as to how and by whom tooth whitening should be performed in the EU.
‘Patient safety is the number one priority. To be effective a tooth whitening product has to have over 3% hydrogen peroxide and the new regulations from the European Council prohibit products containing over 6% hydrogen peroxide. The new regulations ensure that properly qualified dentists are carrying out what is a dental procedure, that safe products are being used, and that the treatment is restricted to those over 18′ Feeney said.
The IDA had previously warned of the dangers of some products available via the internet which contain very high levels of hydrogen peroxide and which could be lethal in the wrong hands. At the other end of the scale some products contain very low levels of hydrogen peroxide and the IDA says these are ineffective.
‘Tooth whitening is a safe procedure if carried out by a dentist but it’s a procedure which shouldn’t be repeated too often. As a rough guide once a year should be sufficient. We don’t recommend it for pregnant women or heavy smokers or drinkers as it can cause particular problems for each of these groups’ Feeney concluded.
Member State will have 12 months to transpose the Directive into national legislation after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
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