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Changes to the law regarding tooth whitening have renewed concerns about non-dentally qualified therapists undertaking this cosmetic procedure on patients looking for their own ‘white Christmas’.

An EU Directive came into force on 31 October 2012 changing the strength of chemicals allowed in tooth whitening products. However, tooth whitening treatments still may only be carried out by qualified dentists or under their direct supervision by qualified dental hygienists and dental therapists.

Simon Bromley, a dentist at Bridge Dental Smiles in Oakengates, Telford expressed his concerns;

“While the results of teeth whitening can transform how someone feels about their appearance, for some patients the procedure may not be suitable due to their dental health. That’s why anyone considering this treatment should talk to their dentist first.”

“People may be attracted by low prices but they are taking a risk when having tooth whitening outside of their dental practice. We’ve seen one case of a women who came to us with badly burnt lips after using a tooth whitening kit provided by a beauty therapist.”

The body that governs dentistry in the UK, the General Dental Council, has reaffirmed its position on the treatment insisting that an appropriate clinical examination is carried out in order to ensure that there are no risk factors or any other oral pathology concerns.

Simon Bromley added,

“Only dentists can legally prescribe the chemicals used in conventional and laser tooth whitening treatments. Patients looking to save money may be tempted to buy the chemicals online. If legal these chemicals will have little effect due to the non-prescription strength allowed. However, there is no guarantee what you will be exposing your mouth, teeth and gums to and the damage could be permanent.”

“We also know some therapists try to get around the legislation by using other chemicals such as chlorine dioxide. The result here would be white teeth at the cost of damaging the surface of the enamel. Bottom line is if a therapist can’t tell you the name of the chemicals they use and how they work then go to a professional.”

Consumers and dentists alike are being encouraged to contact their local trading standards office if they suspect a therapist is breaching the law.