ILLEGAL teeth whitening is "running rampant" across the UK and the public must be alert to the risks.
That’s the message from the British Dental Association (BDA) in response to a BBC investigation into the practice.
The BDA said instances of illegal whitening had increased by 26 per cent in the past year.
It hit out at "sham teeth whitening schools" and called on the beauty industry to raise awareness of the issue amongst its members and those who train them.
Undercover reporters from BBC London TV news filmed training schools and companies offering to provide fake whitening qualifications to candidates after just a few hours of training, and putting the public at risk. One school said it had trained "thousands" of candidates. The schools are said to provide only rudimentary guidance for illegal whitening, teaching beauticians and hairdressers how to use whitening gels, powerful heating lights and what treatment and dental advice to offer to customers.
The BDA's scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, said: "Illegal whitening is now running rampant across the UK, and while authorities are doing what they can it's vital that the public understand the risks.
"We know that sham teeth whitening schools exploit the ignorance of beauticians and others who are unaware that they could end up in a criminal court. Not just that, these untrained operators can permanently damage your teeth and gums and can't provide help if something goes wrong.
"The public need to be aware that fly-by-nights with a few hours online training can cause lasting damage to your teeth and gums and can't help you when something goes wrong.
"If you put yourself in the hands of unqualified individuals armed with unsafe chemicals then you are gambling with your health."