January 26, 2018 7:42 pm

Groupon selling ‘dental hygiene kits’; dentists warn of dangers

WATCH: Groupon has come under fire for selling so-called dental hygiene kits for people to use at home. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, dental workers in Montreal say using the instruments incorrectly can be a safety hazard.

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Cleaning your teeth isn’t complicated for most people but it can become pretty serious if you’re not careful. So Jennifer Stainforth was stunned by what she found online.

“I found a dental examination kit that was being called a ‘dental hygiene kit,'” she says.

The kit was being sold on the e-commerce site groupon.ca, and the promotional material says it includes a mirror, a pick and tweezers.

“Tweezers are for removing hair from your eyebrows,” Stainforth laughs.

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They are actually forceps used for picking up small items. But that’s not what she’s worried about.

“This was my concern because this is very pointy,” she says, holding a small, pointy instrument that’s called a pick in the kit, “because you can go through your gingiva with this and you can cause bleeding.”

Gingiva is another name for your gums, and the pick is a dental explorer. It cannot be used to remove tartar as the website claims.

“These are what’s used,” she explains, holding a similar, but stouter instrument.

“They are called scalers. The explorer, on the other hand, is just that,” says dentist Elia Samaha at the Pointe Claire Dental Clinic.

“It’s a diagnostic tool,” he explains, “that we use to help us probe around the teeth.”

He says because they are so thin, in addition to piercing the gum, they could break.

“It could be swallowed, it could be lodged in the throat, it could be aspirated and go into the lungs.”

Dr. Barry Dolman of the Quebec Order of Dentists says it’s not the first time he’s heard of similar kits being sold to the public.

“I’ve had patients come to me and said, ‘I bought this pick, that I can clean out some of the tartar!”

When patients try to do that, they can just make their problem worse.

“The second aspect,” says Dolman, “is these instruments are in your mouth, there’s bleeding, they’re not clean.”

Groupon has not replied to repeated requests for comment from Global News. Early Friday afternoon, the item was listed as sold out on groupon.ca, but it was still available on groupon.com.

Samaha isn’t happy that these kits are being sold to the public.

“Pretty much just lying to patients and people that might want to improve their oral hygiene,” he said.

Stainforth says she’s now hesitant about buying anything from Groupon.

“It makes me wonder,” she tells Global, “how many other things on that site are falsely advertised and don’t actually do what they’re said to do.”

READ MORE: Montrealers trapped on stalled RTM train for hours; getting home after midnight

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