Only dental professionals should do tooth whitening, poll says

TOOTH whitening should only be carried out by dental professionals, according to a survey by the General Dental Council.

The regulator questioned 1,021 UK adults about their attitudes to the treatment – and 86 per cent said only registered, trained and qualified dental professionals should be allowed to carry it out. This was echoed by 89 per cent of those who have had, or planned to have, tooth whitening. Only four per cent of the public and six per cent of those who had or planned to have whitening disagreed.

The GDC is taking a tough stance against whitening being carried out by practitioners who are not fully registered and qualified. The survey showed strong support from the public for this position as 75 per cent of those polled thought the GDC should prosecute anyone practising whitening illegally.

In the first case of its kind, the GDC successfully prosecuted the boss of a dental clinic in March for “illegally” carrying out tooth whitening. Paul William Hill, 48, of PW Healthcare Consulting Limited in Warrington admitted four offences including practising dentistry while not registered as a dentist or dental care professional between October 2, 2010 and March 11, 2011.

He has been ordered to pay £6,265 in fines and costs and PW Healthcare Consulting Limited, which traded nationally as Style Smile Clinics, has been ordered to pay £6,765. This includes costs of £5,500 for the GDC.

The GDC launched the case last year after receiving hundreds of complaints from members of the public and dental professionals about tooth whitening treatment being provided by individuals who are not registered dental professionals. Charges relating to two other people and one other company have been adjourned until May 18.

The regulator has warned it plans to go ahead with more prosecutions in the future. Chief Executive and Registrar of the GDC, Evlynne Gilvarry said: “This case has significant implications for the dental profession and for public protection. The General Dental Council will now consider its position carefully with regards to the hundreds of other complaints about the illegal practice of dentistry that it has received.

"We are concerned about the risk to the public posed by such potentially hazardous treatment being provided by people without the training and qualifications necessary for registration as a dental professional.”

Complaints from some members of the public who have had tooth whitening treatments include reports of burning gums, sensitivity and damaged enamel.