Are you considering tooth whitening?

As part of National Smile Month, the UK’s regulator of dental practice, the General Dental Council (GDC), wants to remind patients and members of the public who can and can’t carry out tooth whitening.

In May 2013, the GDC welcomed the decision by the High Court that tooth whitening is the practice of dentistry and should only be undertaken by regulated dental professionals – specifically dentists and dental hygienists, dental therapists and clinical dental technicians working to the prescription of a dentist.

To try to help patients and members of the public understand the legal position around tooth whitening, the GDC has updated its leaflet Considering tooth whitening? It can be found on the GDC website here.

Questions members of the public might want to ask:

  • Is the person performing the treatment registered with the GDC? Are they a dentist, dental hygienist, dental therapist or clinical dental technician?
  • Who will be carrying out the procedure? What training and experience do they have?
  • What types of tooth whitening are available and what are the differences between them?

More information on tooth whitening can be found here.

The GDC receives hundreds of complaints every year about illegal tooth whitening and it will take action wherever possible.

The GDC does not have statutory power to walk in to salons, beauty parlours and shopping centres, across the UK, and shut illegal tooth whiteners down. However, so far in 2014 the GDC has successfully prosecuted seven cases of illegal tooth whitening in the Magistrates’ Courts.

The GDC is also working in other ways to try to tackle this issue. For example, the GDC is working with ‘daily deals’ companies and exhibition venues across the UK to try to guard against the promotion of illegal tooth whitening.

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