A Hemel Hempstead dentist has warned those searching for the perfect Hollywood smile that some clinics offering teeth whitening services are operating outside of the law.
The dental professional, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals from people carrying out the practice, urged people tempted by bargain deals on teeth whitening to check out the clinic’s credentials before taking the plunge, as many are unqualified.
The caution follows the prosecution in January of a Hemel Hempstead man for unlawfully carrying out teeth whitening – one of seven convictions nationwide to have taken place so far this year.
Jason Edworthy pleaded guilty to charges relating to the Beta Clinic at Marlowes as well as a further premises in Stanmore, Middlesex.
Mr Edworthy, who stopped carrying out the practice once he realised it was illegal, was fined £250, £25 victim surcharge and full costs to the General Dental Council of £897.82.
According to the GDC, only dentists, dental hygienists and dental therapists working to the prescription of a dentist can carry out tooth whitening.
The concerned dentist who contacted the Gazette said many people are caught out by courses which are legal in Europe, but are unaware of a UK law which supersedes it.
She said: “People are naive because they want to have white teeth, but this isn’t the way to go about it.
“In the future this will be a major public health problem. If a restaurant has a dirty kitchen, it is shut down – I don’t know why this isn’t thought of in the same way.”
The GDC has issued guidelines to people seeking the treatment, advising them to ask their practitioner whether they are registered with the body and what training and experience they have. But the agency itself does not have statutory power to walk in to salons, beauty parlours and shopping centres and shut illegal tooth whiteners dow.
The whistleblower said: “My concern is not people taking away my business but the fact people are endangering their lives. These people don’t have the right cross-infection controls, which could spread hepatitis B and C and HIV. And that is extremely dangerous.”