13 Feb

New figures reveal 26% increase in cases of illegal tooth whitening

New figures from the General Dental Council show a 26% increase in the number of reports of illegal tooth whitening in 2019.

The GDC has clamped down on the provision of illegal whitening treatments, but reports suggest that this is an industry that is still rife. Tooth whitening is a dental treatment, and should therefore only be provided by qualified, registered dental professionals. Anyone who offers whitening services without the relevant qualifications and expertise is liable to prosecution. Despite the legislation, GDC research suggests that are several providers, including beauty salons, providing whitening treatment without any formal dental training.

Tooth whitening is considered to be a safe treatment when provided by expert dental professionals, but it does carry a risk of heightened sensitivity, swollen and painful lips and gums and chemical burns. Dentists across the UK have seen a rise in patients attending surgeries after experiencing adverse reactions to illegal whitening treatment.

An undercover investigation by the BBC found that one beauty school had provided thousands of candidates with illegal qualifications.

Dr Ben Atkins, president of the Oral Health Foundation, explained that any dental treatment can go wrong, exposing patients to risks. Dental professionals study for years and have the support of trained staff when treating patients. Without formal training and qualifications, illegal practitioners are putting patients at risk.

In 2019, the GDC received 732 reports of illegal tooth whitening. This equates to an increase of 26% from 2018. Since 2015, the body has brought 126 prosecutions forward.

Anyone who wishes to have whiter teeth is encouraged to make sure they visit a reputable, reliable, experienced dental professional and to avoid any deals that look too good to be true. The GDC is also urging anyone who has been offered treatment by a non-dentist to contact them.