Getting Your Teeth Bleached In The Mall: Cost-Saving Option, Or Unsafe Scam?

Several years ago, if you wanted whiter teeth, you would head to your dentist's office for a professional whitening treatment. Today, however, patients seeking a whiter smile have another option -- heading to the local mall. Tooth whitening boots are popping up in malls across America, and at first glance, they seem like a cost-effective alternative to the dentist's office, offering whitening treatments for less than what you can expect to pay at the dentist. The deeper you dig, however, the more these mall-based tooth whitening clinics seem like a scam -- and an unsafe one, at that!

If you're considering having your teeth whitened at the mall, you'd better take a close look at these facts first.

Mall whitening booths use a different whitening chemical than dentists -- but they won't tell you that!

When you have your teeth whitened in your dentist's office, he or she will use a solution of hydrogen peroxide. Since this chemical is pretty potent, most patients experience noticeable results in one treatment, though those with deeper stains may need several. Either way, hydrogen peroxide is great for removing stains caused by aging, tobacco use, and consumption of dark-colored foods.

Many whitening booths at malls will tell you that they use hydrogen peroxide in their bleaching procedures. However, they really use a much milder chemical called carbamide peroxide. While this chemical will whiten your teeth somewhat, it is the same compound used in whitening strips and gels sold over-the-counter at the pharmacy. It won't have the dramatic whitening effects that hydrogen peroxide, applied by your dentist, would have. Whitening booths lead customers to believe that they are getting a dentist-quality whitening, when really they are paying for a whitening treatment they could buy at the drugstore for a lot less.

The technicians at the booth won't even apply the whitening product for you -- and if they do, they are breaking the law.

The clinic-like atmosphere of most of these booths, along with the scrubs worn by many employees, make you feel like you're getting treatment from professionals. In reality, however, these employees are not certified medical professionals, and thus they are not allowed to actually perform the whitening procedure themselves. (This could be considered practicing dentistry without a license in many states.)

Thus, when you sit down for your whitening treatment, the technician will likely hand you the materials and instruct you as to how to apply them to your own teeth. What are you really paying for if you're being given drugstore-quality materials and applying them yourself? If the technicians do apply the whitening products for you, they are probably breaking the law in doing so. At that point, you should ask yourself whether you really want to give your business to a company that does not adhere to regulations that have been put in place to protect the public.

If you have an underlying medical condition that makes whitening unsafe for you, the booth operators won't know or tell you.

There are people who should not have their teeth whitened. If your enamel is thin, you have any untreated decay, or you suffer from tooth sensitivity, whitening may make matters worse. If you were to visit a dentist for whitening, they would confirm that your teeth are healthy enough for whitening before going through with the procedure. However, the technicians at the whitening booth are not dentists, will not look at your mouth, and cannot tell you if your teeth are in good enough shape for whitening. Thus, there's a chance you could emerge from the booth with problems that are bigger than a little tooth discoloration.

The next time you see a tooth whitening booth in the mall, keep walking. They don't offer the level of services they claim to offer, they don't always follow safety regulations, and they may put your health at risk due to their lack of knowledge and training. A professional whitening in your dentist's office may cost a bit more, but you'll get better results and can be confident that the procedure is being done safely. Contact a company like Willowdaile Family Dentistry for more information about getting your teeth professionally whitened.