Do-it-yourself teeth whitening kits can contain illegally high levels of a bleach used in hair dye, the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) warned today.
Tests carried out on 20 products showed 18 of them had hydrogen peroxide levels above the legal limits.
The bleaching agent can aggravate gum disease and even cause chemical burns to the mouth in some cases.
One teeth whitening kit contained 230 times the legally permitted level of the bleaching agent, Trading Standards officers found.
People trying to achieve a Hollywood-white smile should consult their dentist before trying to use the kits at home, Trading Standards warned.
TSI chief executive Ron Gainsford said some DIY teeth whitening kits cost as little as £14 to buy.
‘Our tests found high levels of hydrogen peroxide, which can aggravate gum disease and cause sensitive teeth – or even chemical burns to the mouth,’ he warned.
‘We strongly recommend that anyone considering having their teeth whitened cosmetically should consult a qualified dentist.’
Trading Standards officers across central England tested 16 teeth whitening kits available in shops and over the internet.
Only two of these contained hydrogen peroxide within the permitted 0.1 per cent level for use by anyone other than qualified dentists. The rest had between 0.24 per cent to 23.8 per cent of the bleaching agent.
In a separate study, Hertfordshire Trading Standards sampled another four teeth whitening products bought over the internet from UK suppliers.
All of them contained illegally high levels of the bleaching agent, with one product containing 7.3 per cent.
Trading Standards officers are contacting the manufacturers and suppliers of all products containing too much hydrogen peroxide to get them pulled from sale. Further investigations are continuing.
The only two products which passed the tests were Boots Expert Teeth Whitening Programme and the Brilliant Tooth Whitening System, distributed by Brilliant Products.
Tests were carried out on teeth whitening kits and not on whitening toothpastes or polishes.
The Press Association, All Rights Reserved
* Considering a cosmetic change? Check out the Which? interactive guide to cosmetic treatments first.