Time for tooth whitening danger to end, says BDA

The British Dental Association (BDA) is urging dentists, Trading Standards officials and the General Dental Council (GDC) to join forces to put an end to teeth whitening treatments being supplied illegally by non-qualified individuals.

The call coincides with the implementation of the European Council’s Directive on Tooth Whitening Products in the UK on 31 October. This legislative change means that, in addition to an increase in permitted levels, hydrogen peroxide tooth whitening products can only be sold to dentists. This should signal an end to non-dentists providing whitening treatments.

However, the BDA is concerned that such individuals might also choose to flout the legal position on the supply of products. It has always been the case that non-dentists providing whitening have acted illegally as this treatment constitutes the practice of dentistry and can only be carried out by GDC registered dental professionals.

The BDA is calling on dentists to be vigilant and report non-dentists offering tooth whitening to both their local Trading Standards department and to the GDC, and for both agencies to take robust action in response to such reports.

Dr Stuart Johnston, a member of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, and Chair of the Council of European Dentists’ working group on whitening products, said:

“The transposition of the European Directive into UK law makes possible a new era of patient safety in tooth whitening. We must now make that possibility a reality. Dentists must be diligent in reporting any non-dentists performing whitening, and Trading Standards and the GDC must put safety first and take action to protect the public.

“Often whitening by non-dentists is also performed using dangerous chemicals such as chlorine dioxide and sodium perborate which can result in severely burnt gums. It is time to put an end to unsafe, illegal whitening.”

The BDA is one of a number of professional representative organisations in dentistry to sign a joint statement welcoming the amendment to the UK cosmetic regulations which changes the positioning on the supply of hydrogen peroxide based whitening products.