Dentists in tooth-whitening warning
Many tooth-whitening products are either deadly dangerous or utterly useless, dentists have warned.
The Irish Dental Association said it was particularly concerned about treatments on the market which had high levels of the chemical hydrogen peroxide.
These products, for sale on the internet, could be lethal in the wrong hands, it cautioned.
On the other hand, some treatments which had too little of the active ingredient "are next to useless", the body said.
Tom Feeney, a spokesman for the Irish Dental Association and member of the Council of European Dentists, insisted only qualified dentists can safely administer tooth whitening procedures.
He also advised pregnant women and young people under the age of 16 not to have their teeth whitened.
"Tooth whitening is a safe procedure if carried out by a dentist but it's a procedure which shouldn't be repeated too often and maintaining good dental health should be the priority," he said.
"As a rough guide once a year should be sufficient."
He added: "We don't recommend it for pregnant women, children under 16 or heavy smokers or drinkers as it can cause particular problems for each of these groups."
The warning coincides with new European Commission plans to regulate the use of the tooth whitening chemical hydrogen peroxide.