Charlotte here from our Rockville Family & Cosmetic Dentistry office, wishing everyone out there and wonderful holiday and a prosperous New Year. I recently had a couple of interesting experiences that I thought I would share with you here in blog form. Having been an assistant in the dental field for almost 10 years now, I know a lot about all things dental. If you have been to the mall lately, you may have noticed the teeth bleaching kiosks. I saw one for the first time the other day and was shocked at what I saw. A young Doogie Howser looking character, wearing a white lab coat and pinning bibs around the necks of shoppers disguised as real patients! Sandwiched between hair extensions and a hot dog cart was what looked like a high schooler costumed as a dentist. He was shifting between several reclined operatory chairs handing out shade guides and promising guaranteed results. My jaw hung open as I waited to hear about the wonders of snake oil. A crowd began gathering as these 'patients' would dutifully follow the instructions of the boy in the white coat. With mirror and bleaching gel in hand, these 'patients' started spreading the gel on their teeth! Now, I know that in the state of Maryland , dental assistants aren't even allowed to apply the whitening gel, so how are these untrained people allowed to place this strong solution in their mouths? Well, that's the catch. I soon realized that the process making this legal is that the kiosk operators do not place the product in the 'patients' mouth; the 'patient' places it themselves. I heard nothing in the way of patient education. I heard nothing about the possible risks. I had a hard time keeping quiet. I felt I had an obligation to inform these people of the dangers of having your teeth bleached outside of a dental professionals office. If it were me, I would want to know that using high concentration bleach without proper administration can cause serious damage to my teeth and gums. I wanted to grab Doogie and ask him about his credentials, and how does he determine who is a good or bad candidate for this procedure? In our office, we wouldn't think of bleaching teeth before Dr. Siegel performs a thorough exam. There are many things to consider before deciding to whiten your teeth. Do you have any cavities? Placing a strong concentration of bleach on cavities or teeth with nerve damage can cause further problems. Are your gums healthy and free of disease? Only a dentist can determine this. Are your teeth sensitive? Without the correct diagnosis and follow up instructions, bleaching sensitive teeth can cause intense pain and discomfort. I didn't speak up that day but I am speaking up now. Saving a few dollars isn't worth your health. If you are interested in a whiter, brighter smile, please go see a dental professional. Give us a call and ask about what tooth whitening options we have to offer or come see Dr. Siegel at Family & Cosmetic Dentistry for a complimentary exam.