Beware teeth-fixing products touted by influencers, Latest Health News - The New Paper

Beware teeth-fixing products touted by influencers

PARIS – By flashing a perfect smile, online beauty influencers have proven adept at convincing their young followers that they too can have blindingly white, perfectly aligned teeth for very little money, time or effort.

But the teeth whitening or straightening products these influencers are promoting – often via sponsored ads on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok – can be dangerous if used incorrectly, dentists have warned.

The simple online tests offered by these products cannot detect bone loss, tooth loosening or gum disease, said Dr Christophe Lequart, a dental surgeon and spokesman for the French Union for Oral Health.

But if the products are used by customers with such problems, it could lead to serious long-term damage, he warned.

Other products promoted by enthusiastic beauty and wellness influencers include teeth whitening strips, pens, gels, lamps and toothpaste.

Some of these products are sold online for as little as US$20 (S$27) – compared to potentially thousands for a whitening procedure carried out by a dentist.

The active whitening ingredient in many of these products, the chemical compound hydrogen peroxide, is strictly regulated in the United Kingdom and European Union.

The concentration of hydrogen peroxide cannot exceed 0.1 per cent in over-the-counter products in the UK and EU. Dentists, however, can use or prescribe products that have up to 6 per cent.

When used in large quantities, hydrogen peroxide can be harmful – particularly if applied to cavities or diseased gums.

Before whitening, dentists clean teeth to remove any surface discolouration, a process which does not happen for at-home products bought online.

Dr Lequart said using too much of these products can cause irritation or even lead gums to recede – an early warning sign of future tooth loss. He cautioned that before-and-after whitening images on social media are often touched up using Photoshop. – AFP