Illegal teeth whitening continues to be offered by beauty salons and other unqualified personnel. As highlighted by the front page of The Probe recently, the real problem is that patients donâ€™t really understand there are risks associated with having whitening treatment outside of a dental practice. Whitening is viewed as purely cosmetic when, as we know, it is a dental treatment.
Many of us will be seeing patients who have been tempted by the offer of â€œcheapâ€ deals in beauty salons or by kits or ‘daily discount deals’ sold via the internet, and will be unaware of the risks they are taking. Because itâ€™s a lucrative sideline, beauticians and other businesses outside dentistry wonâ€™t stop offering whitening until the public is fully aware of the risks associated with products and treatment from people who donâ€™t have a dental qualification.
Credit where credit is due, the General Dental Council is undertaking prosecutions when it can for the illegal practice of dentistry. The latest GDC victory was to persuade the High Court that whitening is a dental treatment and should only be undertaken by regulated dental professionals.
The High Court overturned a Magistratesâ€™ Courtâ€™s decision to acquit Ms Lorna Jamous, a director of laser whitening company Perfect Whites, of the offences of practising dentistry and unlawfully carrying on the business of dentistry when not regulated by the GDC. Ms Jamous was convicted of the two offences.
The GDC has also got the discount deal company Groupon to promise not to offer discounts on whitening treatments carried out by people who are not dentally qualified.
I am occasionally asked by patients for advice about whitening. I find it useful to have some readymade answers. The GDC has got a helpful brochure with Q&As which I suggest to patients that they should consult: