Is Teeth Whitening Safe? Legal Regulations in Australia and Everything You Need to Know

First off, Yes. Teeth whitening is safe. But, several factors affect its legality in Australia.

People strive to attain a pearly white smile. Whether for aesthetic purposes or to get rid of unsightly stains, teeth whitening has grown popular. After this procedure, you’ll undoubtedly gain the confidence to flash anyone a smile—a beautiful one at that.

Since the uptick in demand for teeth whitening, the legal and safety concerns have risen significantly. Users are skeptical about approaching a beautician or a dentist to get this treatment. Does that pearly white smile come at a harmful cost? What’s the legality of cosmetic dentistry in Australia?

We know you have these questions, and we’ll strive to answer them all in this detailed guide. Let’s start with the meaning of teeth whitening.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Have you ever admired someone’s smile because it’s super bright? It could merely be natural. But you can achieve the same through teeth whitening.

Put simply, teeth whitening is a dental procedure that lightens your teeth to make them brighter. The process often enhances your smile as well.

It responds to teeth discoloration caused by diets, aging, or lifestyle choices. It’s not always a professional procedure. Individuals can undergo this process with at-home kits or sometimes under the supervision of a dentist.  So, there are two methods of teeth whitening:

Professional Teeth Whitening

For professional teeth whitening, a dentist applies highly concentrated bleaching agents to your teeth. The procedure delivers a remarkable result within a short time. Sometimes, professionals enhance bleaching effects using lights or lasers, but this comes with some health concerns.

At-home Teeth Whitening Kits

This entails using over-the-counter whitening kits for your teeth. Whitening kits vary. The available options include gels, strips, or trays of bleaching agents. However, the bleaching agents are less concentrated than the ones professionals use.

The result is gradual and not as drastic as visiting a dentist. But the benefit of at-home teeth whitening kits is their convenience in your own space.

Each process has its safety concerns and legal regulations. We’ll examine this below.

What are the Safety Concerns and Myths?

The debate regarding teeth whitening is riddled with several myths and unfounded concerns, particularly regarding its safety. Let’s dispel some of these myths and reveal reality:

Myth 1: Tooth Whitening Toothpaste Works

This can only be true under one condition: you leave the whitening toothpaste on your teeth. But of course, you have to wash your mouth after brushing. Companies often boast of teeth-whitening toothpaste and add extra costs.

Don’t be deceived. For a whitening product to work, it must stay on your teeth longer than a toothpaste would.

Myth 2: Teeth Whitening Causes Permanent Tooth Sensitivity

When done correctly, under a licensed professional, you won’t have to worry about this. However, using some products prohibited under Australian law might cause tooth sensitivity. And, of course, opting for a subpar procedure under a quack.

Myth 3: Acidic Fruits Whitens the Teeth

Nothing is farther from the truth than this: Acidic fruits can’t eliminate discoloration or brighten teeth. Contrarily, they may damage teeth’ enamel. So, abstain from such harmful DIY.

Myth 4: Results are Permanent

While it would be great if true, results aren’t permanent. As a matter of fact, how long the results last hinges on your oral hygiene and lifestyle choices. If you smoke– ehrr you’d probably need to say goodbye to your bright teeth.

Myth 5: Over the Counter Options are the Same as Professional Whitening

You can’t achieve the same results as professional teeth whitening with an over-the-counter kit. Besides, the professional method is much safer and regulated.

Legal Regulations in Australia

In Australia, stringent laws and safety standards regulate teeth whitening. If you are considering teeth whitening, become conversant with these laws.

Frankly, we always recommend only opting for a dentist with a proper license. Whether relying on at-home kits or professional teeth whitening, take note of Australia’s robust regulations.

For starters, different bodies regulate the use of teeth whitening products and the procedure in Australia. They are:

  • The Dental Board of Australia
  • Therapeutic goods association
  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
  • Australian competition and consumer commission

The major laws that affect teeth whitening are:

Use and Supply Restrictions

Highly concentrated teeth whitening products are out of bounds for unregistered dental practitioners. Products containing over 6% hydrogen peroxide or 18% carbamide peroxide are limited to dental practitioners.

Cosmetic professionals or unregistered dentists must only use products below the abovementioned concentration.

Duty of Care and Professional Judgment

Dental practitioners must first check a patient before proceeding with teeth whitening to determine if it’s the proper treatment for the patient.

In this case, the law recommends relying on the dentist’s professional judgment to confirm that teeth whitening is justified. Before the procedure, the dentist must explain all the risks and obtain informed consent.

Home Use and Advertising

The Australian Consumer Law regulates DIY teeth whitening products for home use because they are consumer goods and cosmetics. Generally, these products must not exceed 6% hydrogen peroxide and 18% carbamide peroxide. The poison standard of 2012 clearly states such products would be labeled S6 substances.

Moreover, since over-the-counter teeth whitening kits fall under cosmetics, they must declare their ingredients on the product. This provision allows users to scan ingredients to avoid allergies.

Since December 2011, regulatory bodies have recalled certain teeth-whitening products. However, highly concentrated teeth-whitening agents may be sold for home use under strict regulations. The only condition is the recommendation of a licensed dental practitioner.

Note that some regulations may be location-specific, so check for such regulations.

Role of Consumers

As a consumer, you have the moral responsibility to choose only compliant products. Always opt for treatments and teeth whitening agents that meet the legal standards. Note that this is only possible when you understand the requirements. In the end, it’s all about your safety.

Final Verdict

The teeth whitening industry keeps growing in Australia. In fact, these regulations were put in place due to rampant oral issues resulting from this industry’s popularity.

Knowing these legal standards, you can ensure you only opt for safe options. And you’ll undoubtedly make informed decisions that positively affect your health.

We recommend consulting a professional dentist for teeth whitening. It’s a surefire way to secure a brighter smile without sacrificing health.