Warwickshire trading standards investigate illegal teeth whitening treatments

An investigation in to Warwickshire businesses offering teeth whitening has revealed that rules introduced to protect people from illegal and dangerous treatments are working on the High Street, but problems may still exist with home treatment services.

Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service carried out the investigation after seizing imported illegal teeth whitening products destined for traders across the UK, some containing more than 33% hydrogen peroxide (bleaching agent).

The law changed some time ago to ensure that teeth whitening must only be carried out by or under the supervision of a qualified dentist and the product used must only contain a maximum of 6% hydrogen peroxide, the ingredient that bleaches teeth.

Trading Standards Officers identified and contacted 48 Warwickshire businesses offering teeth whitening services. Most were found to be already complying with the law and at the conclusion of the investigation no businesses were providing unlawful services or using dangerous products.

However, Trading Standards Officers did discover websites that might enable Warwickshire consumers to book home treatment teeth whitening services. These services are unlikely to be offered by qualified professionals and therefore could be dangerous and illegal. Trading Standards Officers are also concerned about the use of illegal DIY kits, which is why Officers are working with Border Force to seize imports of these products (over 15,000 to date).

Warwickshire County Councillor Howard Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“Dentists have warned that bleaching kits containing illegally high levels of hydrogen peroxide can cause stomach problems, mouth infections, toothache, gum- shrinking and nerve damage.”

“I’m pleased that Warwickshire high street businesses offering these services are taking their responsibilities seriously and would urge consumers to always seek advice from their dentist before commencing on a teeth whitening treatment programme.”

Tooth whitening is the practice of dentistry and our advice is that consumers should only use a professional.

Legally, teeth whitening can only be carried out by individuals who are regulated by the General Dental Council. Only registered dentists, hygienists, therapists or clinical dental technicians are permitted to carry out teeth whitening procedures and the GDC has powers to investigate and prosecute unlicensed teeth whitening providers.

Professionals qualified to carry out teeth whitening treatments can use products that contain up to 6% hydrogen peroxide, but retailers must not sell products containing more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide to the general public.

Warwickshire Trading Standards is responsible for ensuring that products and services sold by Warwickshire businesses are legal and safe.

Warwickshire businesses requiring further advice on importing goods or services in the UK should contact Warwickshire Trading Standards on 01926 414040 or use the online Business Companion: https://www.businesscompanion.info/

More information about Warwickshire Trading Standards is available on the website: http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards