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Tooth whitening

In recent months we have noticed an increase in retailers offering tooth whitening products and services.

Performing tooth whitening

Only dental professionals registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) may carry out tooth whitening services.

Anyone considering whitening their teeth must remember that they are taking a huge risk by using an unregistered individual. Some patients who have used unregistered services have suffered injuries including burns to the mouth, lips and gums, with a few patients requiring hospital treatment.

When a registered practitioner performs tooth whitening on a patient, they carry out a number of processes and procedures that ensure that the patient is both suitable for tooth whitening and that it is safe to perform on them.

They will:

  • act in the best interests of the patient in providing a high standard of care
  • obtain fully informed consent for treatment, which they must be competent to carry out
  • obtain a medical history of the patient before starting treatment
  • give necessary explanations about benefits and risks
Most importantly, a dentist is sufficiently trained to be able intervene should the patient not be comfortable or suffer an allergic reaction.

When carrying out a tooth whitening cycle, the first use must be carried out by a dental practitioner or under their direct supervision.  Afterwards, the product may be given to the consumer to complete the cycle.

We do not register premises or individuals to carry out tooth whitening.  

If we believe any business or individual is carrying out the practice of tooth whitening, we must inform the GDC who may bring a criminal prosecution for the illegal practice of dentistry by non-registered companies and individuals.

The penalty for carrying out tooth whitening illegally is at the discretion of the courts and it may involve compensation of any injured parties.

Anyone can check to see whether someone is registered by logging on to the GDC website www.gdc-uk.org

Tooth whitening products

Under the Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations 2013 retailers (including beauticians, hairdressers, chemists, pop-up stalls or shops) can only supply tooth whitening products which contain or release 0.1% hydrogen peroxide or less.

Tooth whitening products which contain or release levels of hydrogen peroxide between 0.1% & 6% can only be sold to dental practitioners. 

Tooth whitening products which contain or release more than 6% hydrogen peroxide are illegal.

Any retailer supplying tooth whitening products must check the products and all accompanying documentation to make sure they contain (or release) no more than 0.1% of Hydrogen peroxide.

The fine for selling non-compliant tooth whitening products can be up to £20,000.

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Environmental health
028 9027 0428
Health and Safety
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
Belfast
BT2 8BP