Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Has Tooth Whitening Been Linked To Oral Cancer?

It’s generally difficult to establish whether or not something is harmful to us and no more so than with tooth whitening. There have been many articles over the years which have highlighted possible risks from the chemicals used in the tooth whitening process, namely hydrogen peroxide and carbmide peroxide.

Tooth whitening is achieved through bleaching the tooth and therefore tooth whitening products contain bleaching agents.

Carbmide peroxide (1/3rd of which is hydrogen peroxide) is mainly used in professionally applied tooth whitening products and often in conjunction with excellerants to ensure the perfect colour is achieved in a very short period of time. The tooth whitening procedure involves the application of peroxides to the teeth using a tray but with each application bleaching agent leaks into the surrounding areas of the mouth.

Some studies have shown that less than half of the tooth whitening bleaching agent is in the bleaching tray at the end of the treatment which suggests a significant amount of leakage with some tooth whitening products.

There have been studies which have indicated that peroxide used in tooth whitening promotes the growth of cancerous tumors although all tests to date have been on animals and not humans.

Tests are not conclusive but it has been noted that there is a growing trend towards tooth whitening and along with it an increase in oral cancer in young people. However, studies and incidences of possible links between oral cancer and tooth whitening have been limited and there is no concrete evidence that tooth whitening, when performed correctly, increases the risk of oral cancer.

The long-term effect of excessive tooth whitening is not yet known.

Although there is no conclusive evidence that tooth whitening can cause oral cancer it must be said that, given the nature of the products used in the bleaching process, it is advisable to avoid excessive use of tooth whitening products.

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