Illegal, dangerous teeth whiteners sold openly in Australia

Teeth-whitening products that can burn the mouth and throat and possibly cause cancer are being sold illegally in Australia.

The New Daily found dozens of ads on eBay advertising teeth-whitening products with dangerously high levels of active ingredients – some with 44 per cent carbamide peroxide and 9 per cent hydrogen peroxide.

Australia’s Poisons Standard lists hydrogen peroxide concentrations greater than 6 per cent, and carbamide peroxide greater than 18 per cent, as ‘poison’ and prohibits their use by anyone except dental professionals.

The kits, which are also being sold on Facebook and Instagram, promise “brighter teeth” and to “remove stains” and “fight plaque and prevent cavities”.

Teeth-whitening products with ‘poisonous’ amounts of hydrogen peroxide are being sold into Australia. Photo: eBay 

Dr Hugo Sachs, president of the Australian Dental Association (ADA), told The New Daily the products can burn the mouth and cause cancer.

“We believe that when these products end up in the wrong hands and are used incorrectly, they can create significant problems from burned gum tissue or loss of nerve vitality,” Dr Sachs said.

“There has been several cases of people encountering irreversible treatments to their teeth, with beauticians providing the treatment.

“These chemicals that are used in the wrong situation end up being carcinogenic because you’re not using them under controlled scenarios.

“If you’ve got fillings on your teeth it also doesn’t change the colour of the fillings and you’ll get blotchy results.”

The ACCC prohibits the home use of products with more than 18 per cent of carbamide peroxide. Photo: eBay

Professor Laurence Walsh, from the University of Queensland’s dentistry school, said he also had grave concerns over the sale of “cheap and nasty” DIY teeth-whitening kits and their use by unqualified practitioners.

“There has been situations in Australia where people have had very nasty chemical burns to the tissues of their gums and even down their throat from using unsafe products,” Professor Walsh told The New Daily.

Consumers should not be misled by the false marketing of these products as safe, he said.

“People who are selling these products as eco-friendly and non-toxic is completely false, because there is a chemical formulation that will actually bleach the surface of teeth and its chemical reactiveness will have a degree of toxicity.”

A recent Australian Dental Association study found that over two-thirds (68 per cent) of younger respondents aged 18-35 who had whitened their teeth had bought a kit from another source (such as a website, chemist or beauty store) rather than a dental professional.

Celebrities including Kylie Jenner heavily market whitening brands, such as Hi-Smile.

A spokesperson for the consumer regulator, the ACCC, said it had not received any recent complaints about teeth-whitening products. 

“Some Do-It-Yourself (DIY) teeth-whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. The Department of Health has set safe levels for these chemicals in regulation,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) told The New Daily it was unacceptable for unregistered and unqualified practitioners to mislead people. 

“This is why the national law includes provisions that allow AHPRA to bring charges against a person alleged to be holding out.” 

The New Daily sought comment from the Therapeutic Goods Administration. eBay has also been contacted for comment.



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