By Jesse Hughes
Have you seen the latest in dental convenience: kiosks at the mall where you can get teeth whitening treatments? It might seem like a strange thing to offer in a shopping mall setting, and you might be curious how safe these services are. You can trust actual dental professionals, like those at Dent8 but would you trust your teeth to mall workers? Here is a bit of background information on teeth whitening kiosks.
The biggest risk with teeth whitening kiosks is that they are not staffed by dental professionals (or any kind of medical professional for that matter). They may be trained to handle the materials and equipment of the kiosk but they are not going to have the experience to make any judgement calls with regard to your teeth and gums.
Not everyone is a good candidate for whitening treatments, due to gum sensitivity, crowns, veneers or hidden cavities you don’t know about. If you have recently been to a dentist and know that you are in good shape, it may be fine to try a kiosk whitening service. Otherwise, don’t trust the staff to know what’s best for you and your teeth. Their questionnaires are not very thorough and quite often you’re not even going to know the answers anyway (such as the problem of undiscovered cavities).
Going ahead with the bleaching when you shouldn’t can lead to irritated gums, further enamel damage if you already have small cavities forming, and mismatched whitening from veneers.
A further note on the staffing issue, it can be illegal in some states for kiosk staff to actually perform their procedures because it is considered practicing dentistry without a license. So don’t be surprised if they actually step back and simply guide you through the steps as you administer the treatment yourself. That way, technically, you are doing the whitening, not them.
The next thing you want to consider at a whitening kiosk is the quality of the materials they use in their treatments. Some places use hydrogen peroxide, generally in concentrations not much stronger than the over-the-counter kits you can buy at the store.
Others may have a stronger treatment process, using carbamide peroxide and possibly including a UV light exposure. With stronger chemicals, comes further risk from inexperienced staff who may not protect your gums as well as needed.
And speaking of UV light, exposure to UV can sometimes dry your teeth which leads them to temporarily look brighter and whiter while still at the kiosk. It won’t take long for the enamel to moisten back up again, and darken up a shade or two after you’ve gone home.
Though there are risks to these kiosks, mainly from getting bleach treatments when you shouldn’t (and staff can’t tell the difference), the more likely issue is whether they are going to do anything at all. If you are serious about getting a quality tooth whitening, stick with an actual professional. If you just want a casual treatment, you might as well get the do-it-yourself kits from the store.