Quebec dentists warn about potential risks of salon teeth whitening .

Dentistry

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In the wake of a growing demand for cosmetic teeth whitening, Quebec's professional order of dentists is warning against the potential adverse effects of getting a procedure from a beauty salon instead of a dental clinic.

More and more aestheticians and beauty parlours are adding teeth whitening to their list of services, but often the people doing the job only have a day's training under their belt, according to the order's president, Barry Dolman.

"It could be a hairdresser, a mechanic, anyone who could be doing it," said Dolman.

There are a number of salons that offer one-day training programs, including at Station Beauté Québec in Quebec City, which has offered a course in teeth whitening since February.

The salon's owner, Christine Faucher, told Radio-Canada they get about a dozen people signing up for the training every month.

Faucher said that the peroxide used is regulated by Health Canada and classified as a cosmetic product.

She added that at her salon, they refuse to perform a whitening procedure on someone who hasn't seen a dentist recently or seems to have poor oral health.

Julie Lessard has been working as a dentist in Quebec for more than a decade. (Radio-Canada)

While getting teeth whitened at a dental clinic can cost up to $600, services in salons can be a fraction of that price.

Dentist Julie Lessard, who has been practising for over a decade in Quebec City, said that peroxide can be harmful under certain circumstances.

"If you have cavities, a crack in your tooth, or receding gums; these can be really damaging to the tooth. If the peroxide gets into decay, it's going to be very painful. It's really a treatment that is invasive, contrary to what you might think," she said.

The order of dentists has been discussing for several years now the idea of updating the rules around the practice, making it so only people within the industry can perform whitening, in the interest of public health.

"We're not looking for a monopoly here," said Lessard. "It's just that we want our patients to be well informed and well taken care of."