Analyzing Risks of Online Marketing for Teeth Whitening Products, Post-COVID

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Heliyon study evaluates online information, labeling accuracy, and quantitative analysis of high peroxide content gels.

Since their introduction in the 1980s, teeth whitening products have been widely used by the general public. Up to the present, the popularity of these items has increased significantly. As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, patient preferences have shifted toward online accessibility, effectively creating an online market for telemedicine and health products, including teeth whitening items.1

In a study conducted by Heliyon, the authors aimed to evaluate the safety risks associated with high peroxide-containing dental preparations available online for at-home use. To perform their study, the investigators examined search engine results, evaluated website content and product labels, and performed a product quality analysis.1

The results showed that ingredient lists were either missing or incomplete for all online products. However, it was listed on the label or in enclosed documentation in four out of five samples. Furthermore, precautionary statements were rarely disclosed online at 16.7%, with contraindications and adverse effects being mentioned in 80% of the delivered product labels.1

According to a recent study by Transparency Market Research, the market for teeth whitening products is expected to hit approximately $10.6 billion with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2% from 2023 until 2031. The availability of these products through online retailers has made it easier for consumers to access them.2

“We hypothesized numerous patients were driven to obtain dental products during the coronavirus pandemic which should primarily only be used in office settings and prescribed by a dentist,” wrote the authors of the study. “Incompetent use of dental products purchased with the intention of ‘self-medication’ in this form may not only lead to further health damage but may even cross the threshold of legality in cases of excessive peroxide content. Following the identification of teeth whitening products with the highest potential consumer risk, we conducted market research referencing high peroxide content bleaching gels available from the internet and completed a comprehensive analysis of test purchased products. Our study results showed, high peroxide content gels are marketed online without information on the use and health risks.”

The authors continued by explaining that they discovered numerous internet vendors that were providing misleading information regarding safety and contents of their products. Their research reveals a lack of information on health risks for online-purchased high peroxide content bleaching gels. Furthermore, deceptive product information and questionable quality were identified as threats to consumer safety.1

In an article published earlier this month by Born2Invest, Angelique Moss suggested checking for products that are dentist-approved. She notes that consumers also need to make sure products have enamel safety, as many products do not properly protect enamel; the product is non-abrasive; and non-irritating, as many popular whitening products contain ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide which can lead to severe gum irritation.3

The study recommends educating consumers on the risks of using high peroxide-containing teeth whitening products without professional guidance. Dentists are positioned to assess the appropriateness of whitening interventions and understand regulations regarding peroxide concentrations. The need for evidence-based and unified legal regulations for online product information, including ingredients, instructions, and warnings, is emphasized. Stricter quality control measures are suggested for the online sale of high peroxide content bleaching products.1

References

1. Rampant online marketing of teeth whitening products: Evaluation of online information, labelling accuracy and quantitative analysis of high peroxide content gels. Heliyon. August 27, 2023. Accessed November 16, 2023. https://www.cell.com/heliyon/fulltext/S2405-8440(23)06671-9?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS2405844023066719%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

2. Teeth Whitening Products Market to Cross USD 10.6 billion, at a CAGR of 6.2% by 2031 | TMR (Analysis, Outlook, Leaders, Report, Trends, Growth). GlobeNewswire. November 8, 2023. Accessed November 17, 2023.

3. Thinking About Teeth Whitening? Read This Before You Damage Your Teeth. Born2Invest. November 2, 2023. Accessed November 17, 2023. https://born2invest.com/articles/at-home-teeth-whitening-getting-it-right/

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