Online stores Amazon, eBay, Wish and China’s AliExpress advertise teeth whitening products with unsafe levels of hydrogen peroxide, according to a British consumer group named Which?
The organization bought 36 teeth whiteners from the four retailers and checked the amount of hydrogen peroxide that each product contains. High concentrations of hydrogen peroxide could burn gums and cause permanent damage to the teeth.
The consumer group found that 21 products are made of more than 0.1 percent hydrogen peroxide, which is the safety limit for over-the-counter products in the U.K. Six of these contain more than a hundred times the safety limit and exceed the six percent legal limit that dentists in the U.K. are allowed to use. Five of these were available on AliExpress, with the most toxic one – a teeth bleaching gel kit sold by a store called Oral Orthodontic Materials – containing 300 times the safety limit.
Both Amazon and eBay listed five products with dangerous amounts of hydrogen peroxide, while Wish advertised two. One of the teeth whiteners sold on Wish – the Crest 3D Whitestrips – contains more than a hundred times the safety limit.
Sue Davies, head of consumer protection policy at Which?, is concerned that many of the products listed on online marketplaces break the legal limit for hydrogen peroxide.
“It’s clear that self-regulation is not working, leaving people exposed to a flood of unsafe products online,” Davies said in a statement. “It is absolutely crucial that online marketplaces are given greater legal responsibility for the safety of products sold on their sites, so that shoppers are far better protected from dangerous and illegal items.”
The organization urged consumers to seek professional help if they were looking to whiten their teeth. Alternatively, consumers could buy teeth whitening kits from reputable high-street retailers, the organization added. (Related: Teeth whitening does more harm than good – it can rot your teeth, study finds.)
After being notified about the findings, some online retailers removed the products named by Which? from their platforms. An eBay spokesperson said that the company banned the five identified listings and took appropriate action against the sellers. The spokesperson added that the firm has filters that automatically block listings that were deemed unsafe or that violated shop policies.
Amazon also removed the five products in question, a spokesperson said. The representative added that the retail giant removes a product from its store when appropriate and reaches out to sellers, manufacturers and government agencies for additional information.
“Safety is a top priority at Amazon and we want customers to shop with confidence on our stores,” the spokesperson told Daily Mail. “We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and we monitor the products sold in our stores for product safety concerns.”
And yet Amazon was repeatedly flagged for allowing the sale of illegal pesticides on its platform. Just last January, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered the tech giant to stop advertising 70 unregistered or defective pesticides. The EPA previously issued a similar order last year and stated that Amazon violated policies regulating the sale of pesticides nearly 4,000 times between 2013 and 2018.
Is hydrogen peroxide bad for your gums and teeth?
Hydrogen peroxide is commonly used in household cleaners, antiseptics and oral care products. As a potent bleaching agent, it breaks down stains to brighten and whiten the teeth. But since it is irritating in high concentrations, hydrogen peroxide is typically diluted with another whitening product, such as baking soda.
Most toothpastes and mouthwashes contain safe amounts of the compound, but most teeth whiteners are made up to 20 percent hydrogen peroxide, which is higher than what dentists administer. This is why experts discourage applying teeth whiteners every day.
“Prolonged bleaching with these high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, especially when used multiple days in a row, can lead to highly irritated gums and sensitive teeth,” dentist Dr. Chris Strandburg told Health. He added that long-term bleaching can also cause a permanent increase in tooth sensitivity, making one’s teeth more sensitive to certain stimuli such as hot or cold temperatures.
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