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Tooth whitening

  • Who can carry out tooth whitening?

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

    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 to 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.

    You can check if someone is registered by visiting the General Dental Council's website (link opens in new window).

  • 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 per cent hydrogen peroxide or less.

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

    Tooth whitening products which contain or release more than 6 per cent 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 per cent of Hydrogen peroxide.

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

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