NEWS & EVENTS
recall Following the lead of overseas regulators, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has pulled some DIY tooth whiteners off the market. By Sarah Pickette 014 14
or years now, dentists and the various dental boards across Australia have been concerned about the potential health risks associated with do-it-yourself teeth whiteners. So when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a voluntary recall of whitening products it had deemed unsafe, it was cause for celebration. “This is a very good development,” says Professor Laurence Walsh, head of the University of Queensland’s School of Dentistry and a spokesperson for the Australian Dental Association (ADA). “The ADA shared a lot of clinical information with the ACCC on this issue. It’s brilliant to see them come out in this way.” The voluntary recall, issued in December last year, targeted teeth-whitening products that contain more than six per cent hydrogen peroxide and more than 18 per cent carbamide peroxide. All known suppliers and retailers of teeth-whitening kits were immediately contacted by the ACCC and advised to remove the products from sale. “We’re fairly confident these products are now off the shelves,” says ACCC commissioner Sarah Court, “but this is certainly something we’ll continue to monitor and should we strike any recalcitrant retailers we have a variety of enforcement options we can bring into play.” The ACCC’s interest in DIY teeth whiteners was first stirred when overseas regulators began to take recall action on some products. That prompted the ACCC to contact Australian dental bodies to see if there was any injury data. It soon became apparent that there was evidence of patients presenting with chemical burns allegedly caused by use of unsafe teeth-whitening kits.
The ACCC recall of DIY teeth whiteners is a cause for celebration among members of the profession.
“I was involved in giving evidence in one court case where, because there was no removal of saliva, the patient swallowed some of what is basically a corrosive gel,” says Walsh. “That person suffered burns down their throat, which subsequently became infected, and they wound up in emergency in a Melbourne hospital.” In this case, the patient had not applied the teeth whiteners themselves at home, but had paid a beauty therapist to carry out this procedure.
Professor Laurence Walsh, University of Queensland’s School of Dentistry
“I was involved in giving evidence in one court case where, because there was no removal of saliva, the patient swallowed some of what is basically a corrosive gel.”
“If someone applies a teeth-whitening treatment to another person, are they illegally doing dentistry? And if they are carrying out this procedure, what training have they had in order to do this safely? I do a lot of training of dentists on teeth whitening and we go into a huge depth of information on safety and correct technique, little of which I’d imagine would be included in the curriculum of a course at a beauty college,” says Prof. Walsh. When someone uses a teeth whitener that has an unsafe
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