Agreement reached on tooth whitening

  • Date: 23 September 2011

A NEW agreement has been reached by the European Council that clarifies the use of tooth whitening products by dentists.

Regulations will be put in place that means products containing or releasing over 0.1 per cent hydrogen peroxide cannot be provided directly to the consumer.

Whitening products between 0.1 and six per cent hydrogen peroxide will only be available to patients following an examination and a first episode of treatment provided or supervised by a dentist. This is to ensure that patients are able to use products provided to them properly at home.

The move follows an almost four-year campaign from the British Dental Association who have long sought clarity on the issue of tooth whitening by dentists.

Dr Stuart Johnston, Chair of the BDA’s Representative Body and Chair of the Council of European Dentists’ working group on tooth whitening, said: “This long-awaited decision is good for dentists and their patients. It puts patient safety first by recognising the importance of examination by a dentist before whitening treatments are provided and updates the legal position on whitening products for dental professionals.”

Earlier this year trading standards officers in Essex County Council launched a crackdown on the use of whitening products which temporarily restricted the supply of hydrogen peroxide-based products to dentists. An agreement was then reached in June when trading standards eased restrictions, allowing GDC registrants to use the products.

This latest agreement should serve to further clarify the rules on tooth whitening.

Dr Johnston added that trading standards officers will “now have a clear indication that they should pursue non-dentists who supply whitening products.”

The European agreement does not change the official position on products containing more than six per cent hydrogen peroxide which remain illegal to use. The BDA said it will “monitor any advances in the evidence base for these higher strength products and campaign for legislative changes that reflect those advances.”

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