Following an increasing trend for teeth whitening procedures in the UK leading oral health charity, the Oral Health Foundation, is highlighting the serious risks that consumers are taking by opting for illegal and unsafe whitening treatment.
Research by the charity found that one in four people (28 per cent) would not go to the dentist for their tooth whitening treatment and rather purchase potentially unsafe home kits over the internet or visit illegal beauticians and kiosks instead.
As the tooth whitening industry is fast becoming one of the major growth industries in cosmetic and dental procedures the charity wants to alert the public to the potentially life changing health risks unscrupulous traders are exposing them to.
Unsafe, illegal tooth whitening can lead to severe chemical burns and possibility permanent scarring, tooth loss and in extreme cases affect the ability to eat and breath.
Karen Coates, Dental Advisor at the Oral Health Foundation and coordinator of the Tooth Whitening Information Group (TWIG) spoke about the dangers unaware consumers are facing.
Mrs Coates said: “20 million people in the UK are leaving themselves open to illegal and unsafe tooth- whitening severely harming their health. They may not be aware of the dangers associated with the procedures and that is only perpetuating the belief that they are fine to go ahead with.
“There are an increasing amount of stories in the press about procedures causing huge problems for unaware consumers. I recently read about a woman who suffered from third degree burns due to an illegal whitening procedure, this could leave her with permanent scarring.
“This is precisely the type of risk that consumers are being exposed to by opting not to get their teeth whitening done by a professional. We are calling on the public to make sure they are aware of the potentially life changing dangers they face through illegal tooth whitening.
Under a European Council directive, tooth whitening products containing or releasing above 0.1% hydrogen peroxide can only be sold to a registered dental professional offering the treatment in their practice.
Tooth whitening can only be given to a person after a dentist has first examined the patient to make sure there are no risks or any other concern about their oral condition, the patient is over 18 years old and the first use is from a dental practitioner or under their direct supervision by a dental hygienist or dental therapist.
Anybody who is not a registered dental professional and is offering tooth whitening treatment using hydrogen peroxide above 0.1% is breaking the law and liable for prosecution. Every single case raised by the General Dental Council since the rules came into force has resulted in a successful prosecution.
CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, added: “Much of this problem comes from the people carrying out the tooth whitening procedures not being aware that it is illegal. Many undergo a brief ‘training period’ with an unscrupulous company and then believe they are qualified to carry out the treatment, but this is wrong and can be hugely dangerous to consumers with the providers facing the severe legal consequences.
“Ignorance in this case in not a valid excuse, by carrying out these treatments they are breaking the law and will be forced to face the penalties. Fines for carrying our illegal tooth whitening are unlimited so it can have serious financial and professional implications.
“The cases where illegal and unsafe tooth whitening is leading to serious damage are increasing. There is no reason to put your health at peril and risk permanent and severe damage in order to emulate the fake smiles you see on TV.
“There are a number of reasons why you might get your teeth whitened. Everyone is different; and just as our hair and skin colour vary, so do our teeth. Very few people have brilliant-white teeth, and our teeth can also become more discoloured as we get older. If you choose to have teeth whitening, make sure you have it done in safe way by a qualified dental professional.”
The Tooth Whitening Information Group (TWIG) is working towards a safe and effective tooth whitening solution in the best interests of the public, all to make tooth whitening as safe as possible for the public.
If you feel that you know of an illegal tooth whitening provider or have had treatment that was carried out by someone who is not a registered dental professional, then you should report it to TWIG through their website www.safetoothwhitening.org.
For all press and media enquiries please contact:
Communications Manager: David Arnold
PR & Press Officer: Gavin Hawes
Press team: 01788 539792
Out of office contact: 07921 020593
The Oral Health Foundation is the leading national charity working to improve oral health. Our goal is to improve people’s lives by reducing the harm caused by oral diseases – many of which are entirely preventable.
Established more than 40 years ago, we continue to provide expert, independent and impartial advice on all aspects of oral health to those who need it most.
We work closely with Government, dental and health professionals, manufacturers, the dental trade, national and local agencies and the public, to achieve our mission of addressing the inequalities which exist in oral health, changing people’s lives for the better.
Visit www.dentalhealth.org for more information.
The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is a nationally recognised body that represents over 4,000 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists across the UK and beyond.
BSDHT maintain an on-going dialogue with the General Dental Council (GDC), the Departments of Health and all of the main groups representing dental care professionals, and attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, bringing dental hygiene and therapy to the attention of government ministers and MP’s.
Visit www.bsdht.org.uk for more information.
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