Why You Should Avoid Illegal Teeth Whitening Services

Apr 18, 2018 | News

In recent years, teeth whitening has become a widespread cosmetic trend, with many of us now regularly visiting the dentists for professional treatment to brighten our gnashers. However, while dental professionals are qualified to offer this now-popular procedure, the growing demand for cosmetic teeth whitening has attracted many fraudsters to the industry, which is now thought to be worth around £40m.

Earlier this year, the shocking findings of a BBC investigation served to highlight the growing problem of illegal teeth whitening services within the UK beauty industry by exposing several London-based beauticians who were offering teeth whitening treatments with minimal training and little knowledge concerning the procedure. Secret filming by BBC London captured one beautician using hydrogen peroxide (the whitening compound) at an incredibly dangerous level of 25% during the treatment, putting the client’s oral health at risk and causing them substantial pain throughout the process.

The legal percentage of hydrogen peroxide that can be used by dental professionals during teeth whitening treatments is 6%. Consequently, if the wrong amount is used, not only can this cause intense pain during and after the treatment, but it can also result in other issues such as sensitivity, abscesses and at worst, tooth loss. However, while some beauticians featured in the filming were unaware that they were, in fact, offering illegal services, others openly acknowledged using illegal levels of hydrogen peroxide.

Additionally, as well as offering illegal treatments, beauticians were also found to be selling peroxide home whitening gels that also exceeded the legal level of hydrogen peroxide at 7%.

While the findings of this investigation effectively demonstrate that illegal teeth whitening services are on the rise, results from a public survey carried out by the General Dental Council (GDC) may serve to explain why. In the study, it was found that around 80% of people considering professional teeth whitening would opt for treatment at a certified clinic while a disconcerting 20% would go to a beauty parlour, hair salon or even home service to receive treatment.

If you’re considering professional teeth whitening treatment, here are some things you need to know before selecting where to whiten your pegs: 

Who’s Qualified to Perform Professional Teeth Whitening?

Professional teeth whitening treatments should only ever be performed by qualified dental professionals including dentists, hygienists and dental therapists. Anyone else offering treatment who is not a dental professional or without a dental professional present is offering an illegal service that could pose a serious risk to your oral health. To check if someone offering teeth whitening treatment is registered, visit the General Dental Council website or call 0207 167 6000.  

Is Professional Teeth Whitening Available to Everyone?

Before you receive professional teeth whitening treatment, it is always best to check with your dentist if this is the right thing for you. For example, if you have specific oral conditions such as gum disease or particularly sensitive teeth, professional teeth whitening may not be suitable for you; however, your dentist may be able to recommend other whitening treatments that are.  

Are there Risks with Professional Teeth Whitening?

Whether you opt for professional teeth whitening or a home treatment kit, there is always a small risk that your gums may react to the chemicals used in these treatments, particularly if you suffer from sensitivity already. However, by visiting a dental professional, not only will you able to receive expert advice on what type of treatment is best for you but you can also be assured that the service you do receive will be as safe and secure as possible. Additionally, all at home professional whitening kits strictly adhere to the legal requirements of the industry, and when instructions are carefully followed, will not cause any harm to your teeth.  

What if I’m Unsatisfied with the Results of my Treatment?

If you are unhappy or concerned about your professional teeth whitening treatment, you can freely contact the Dental Complaints Service to make a complaint against your dental professional by calling 0208 253 0800. Alternatively, if you think that you have been subject to illegal teeth whitening treatment, contact the General Dental Council by calling 0207 167 6000 or email them at illegalpractice@gdc-uk.org to receive help and advice on what to do next.

If you don’t fancy a trip to the dentists for professional teeth whitening treatment but still want to brighten your gnashers, check out our professional teeth whitening kit reviews so you can find the right product to help you achieve that perfect smile!

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