Teeth–whitening procedures are becoming increasingly popular—but now, one woman in Ireland is warning others to always have it done by professionals after a teeth–whitening appointment gone wrong. 

Áoife Wills shared her cautionary tale on Facebook, after a teeth-whitening procedure left her gums "severely burned."

“Just a warning to people!!” Wills began her Facebook post, which included jarring photos taken after her botched procedure. “On Saturday I went to a beauty salon in Monaghan to get my teeth whitened, I put my trust in these people to do their job correctly!! However I have now been left with my gums severely burnt and in serious pain!”

Just a warning to people!! On Saturday I went to a beauty salon in Monaghan to get my teeth whitened, I put my trust in…

Posted by Áoife Wills onMonday, December 2, 2019

In the images taken just two days after the procedure, the gums surrounding her front teeth are noticeably burned, and even blackened.

“I had to go to the dentist today to get them checked and get an X-ray thankfully my teeth haven’t being damaged I am very lucky, however they don’t yet know what way my gums are going to heal after this!” she continued.

The dentist explained to her that her burns could be the result of the salon’s failure to put a protective gel on the gums prior to the procedure, and had nothing to do with her teeth or gums. “Simply their fault!!” she continued. “Seriously anyone looking to get teeth whitened please go to a dentist and get it done correctly!!”

RELATED: 

She continued to offer updates in the comment section, that the pain continued. Additionally, she revealed that the dentist believes that permanent damage had been done, and that she might have to get a “gingival graft” done as a result.

While serious injuries such as Wills are uncommon, there are precautions you can take to avoid irritations, says Heather Kunen, DDS, c- The first? Make sure you are going to a reputable dentist, if you do decide to have your teeth professionally whitened.

According to Heather Kunen, DDS, co-founder of Beam Street, a dental clinic based in New York City, chair–side whitening (as opposed to take–home gel or over-the-counter whitening strips) typically involves the use of very strong whitening gel along with a UV or LED light. “The concentration of peroxide used in chair–side whitening is much stronger than over-the-counter products, which puts patients at higher risk to develop soft tissue burns or sensitivity following the procedure,” she says.

RELATED: 

The protocol for most in–office whitening procedures involves the careful placement of a gingival barrier that is meant to protect gum tissue against burning from the strong gel and light. “Even with proper placement of this gingival barrier, patients are always at risk of developing some burning of their soft tissues as well as tooth sensitivity following the procedure,” Dr. Kunen points out. These gingival burns are typically very superficial and heal within a few days. Similarly, any tooth sensitivity following the procedure should resolve within a week.

“In order to protect against this sensitivity, I often recommend that my patients take ibuprofen about 30 minutes prior to the procedure, as well as every 4-6 hours following the procedure for the first few days,” she explains, adding that vitamin E oil is also very soothing to oral tissues after a whitening. Additionally, she recommends her patients brush it on their teeth and gums each morning and evening for 2-4 days following the procedure.

As far as Wills's gingival or gum graft goes, it's a procedure in which a thin piece of gum tissue is taken from elsewhere in the mouth and attached to where the affected gum tissue is (typically, this occurs for patients with severely receding gums), according to the American Dental Association. The recovery time for those procedures are typically quick, but there are steps you can take to speed up the healing process, like avoiding chewing in that area of the mouth, not drinking alcohol or smoking, and following any other instructions given to you by your dentist. 

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter