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Illegal and harmful Tooth Whitening on the rise in the UK

Ronald Baise
11, Apr 2018

Following last months post about the legitimacy of charcoal tooth whitening products, we are shocked to find out that a more sinister cosmetic trend is on the rise in the UK— illegal tooth whitening.

The current law in the UK states that only “qualified dental professionals” are allowed to perform tooth whitening. In this context a qualified dental professional is a dentist or a hygienist who has completed further training in the safe administration of tooth whitening.

Despite the laws, the BBC have reported that an increasing number of beauticians are still performing tooth whitening procedures without an understanding of how to do so safely.

Illegal tooth whitening dangersUntrained practitioners have been using products which are 600% more acidic than what is legally allowed

“Excruciating pain”

One particularly disturbing example of illegal tooth whitening gone wrong saw a patient have a product containing 35% hydrogen peroxide used on his teeth. The concentration of acid in this product is nearly 600% of the maximum strength that dental professionals are allowed to use.

The patient in question suffered “excruciating pain” during and after the procedure, and was left with extreme tooth sensitivity as well as open sores on his lips and gums.

The beautician in question claimed to be unaware of the levels of corrosive chemicals in the product, stating that its manufacturers assured her that she would be able to perform tooth-whitening procedure following a one-day crash course she attended.

This is not an isolated case. A&E departments across the UK have reported a sharp rise in people suffering mouth and facial injuries caused by illegal tooth whitening. In the most unfortunate cases, these people suffer from increased tooth sensitivity for months after the procedure.

Does this mean that all Tooth Whitening is unsafe?

Despite these reports, tooth whitening that is performed by a qualified dental professional and with products that are legal are still completely safe.

The 6% hydrogen peroxide tooth whitening products that are used by 92 Dental and any other licensed dental professional have been tested over decades to ensure that they do not damage enamel. It is the enamel damage that causes the extreme tooth sensitivity that has been the most commonly cited ill effect of illegal tooth whitening.

The damage that illegal tooth whitening can cause to your gums and mouth is due to a clumsy application of these products, and will not occur if the practitioner has been properly trained over a number of years.

Similarly, the self administered whitening trays sold at 92 Dental are completely safe to use at home.

How can I make sure my teeth are whitened safely?
  • Teeth with stains before whitening Teeth with stains before whitening
  • Legal tooth whitening at 92 Dental removes stains Legal tooth whitening at 92 Dental removes stains

If you have your teeth whitened by a licensed dental professional, you can be certain that it will be done safely. Tooth whitening is actually one of the safest treatments a dentist can do.

If you are in any doubt about the legitimacy of a dental professional, you should ask for their General Dental Council (GDC) Number. This proves their registration with the governing body for dentists in the UK. The GDC Number of all practitioners at 92 Dental is listed here.

Do not under any circumstances let someone whiten your teeth who is not a licensed dental professional. No matter what they tell you, it is illegal. The most likely outcome of having your teeth whitened by a beautician or other lay-person is that you will end up wasting your money on products that have no effect beyond placebo. However you could also end up having long term damage to your teeth and gums.

Similarly, do not buy self-administered tooth whitening trays from anyone who is not a licensed dental professional. This includes buying such products from pharmacies. Again, these are likely to have no significant effect over and above placebo.

If you believe an organisation is performing illegal tooth whitening, you can report them to the General Dental Council here.