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Teeth Whitening - the correct legislation

Would you like to whiten your teeth? If so it’s important you are educated about what works, what’s harmful, and where you should go.  

That is why we are here to help you with the following key facts: 

  • The cheapest and easiest way to keep your teeth white is to brush twice daily, avoid snacking and see a hygienist every three/six months. 

  • Toothpastes that boast enzymes, keep stains from sticking to your teeth…. good news if you drink a lot of coffee and red wine.

  • For more serious staining, a professional home whitening kit, fitted by your dentist should cost around £200-£300. 

  • Home bought or cheaper online kits carry substantial risk, some contain illegal chemicals and some strip away your enamel forever, leaving your teeth permanently brown. They can also permanently damage your teeth and gums in other way, and if swallowed can be life-threatening. 

  • More importantly, it’s illegal for ANYONE outside the dental profession to perform laser teeth whitening, including your local hair salon or beautician. Please see below for further details…

  • For peace of mind, consult your dentist before making any teeth whitening decisions. 

Do you know the truth about illegal teeth whitening…..  Legislation introduced on 31 October, 2012, has seen teeth whitening restricted to qualified dentists or dental hygienists/therapists working under the direct prescription from a dentist. So what’s changed, and what does it mean for the people of the UK?  What Does the Legislation Say? 

The legislation means that whitening products which contain or release between 0.1 and six per cent hydrogen peroxide cannot be sold to anyone outside the dental profession. Teeth whitening products containing or releasing more than this are not to be used in the United Kingdom.  A qualified dentist must perform an initial clinical examination to determine whether the patient is a suitable candidate for the cosmetic procedure. They must also perform the first treatment or supervise another qualified dental professional. After this first appointment, the dentist can dispense the tooth whitener to their patient for at-home use.  The teeth whitening procedures outlined by the legislation can only be performed on adults aged 18 years or over. Younger patients may have their teeth enhanced using a very mild whitener with less than 0.1 percent of hydrogen peroxide.  The new legislation sees the United Kingdom operating in accordance with the rest of the European Union. The General Dental Council and local trading standards officers plan to close down and prosecute any businesses found to be offering teeth whitening illegally.  What Does the Ruling Mean for You? 

Unlicensed practitioners may purchase these products as they are cheaper, but they can permanently damage teeth and gums.  The legislation also means the end of “power bleaching” and other treatments which use more than the recommended safe level of hydrogen peroxide.  Some over-the-counter tooth-whitening products are still available, but they are very mild with less than 0.1 percent hydrogen peroxide. Experts suggest this amount is too low to have any discernible effect on the teeth’s appearance.    How Has the Legislation Been Received? 

The British Dental Health Foundation has celebrated the new tooth whitening law. This official body believes that teeth whitening is a dental procedure, and as such should only be trusted to qualified dental practitioners.  However, there is some concern that the ruling to restrict teeth whitening to adults does not always consider the best needs of young patients. Under the current legislation, dentists cannot whiten the isolated non-vital teeth of minors. These commonly darken after trauma to the mouth. Whitening is often believed to be the best option, as alternatives including crowns and veneers can put the tooth under threat. The current law means dentists must legally delay whitening treatments for children, despite any embarrassment the darkened teeth may cause patients.  The new teeth whitening legislation will require many Brits to change their behaviour, but ultimately it exists to protect everyone’s safety while pursuing a whiter smile.  Note: If you are considering whitening your teeth, ALWAYS discuss the options with your dentist first and please, if there is one piece of advice we can give you, don’t buy over the counter whitening gels.


For further information or advice contact College Street Dental Centre in Petersfield, Hampshire on 01730 263180


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