Changing the colour of teeth without destroying them - some call it whitening, some call it bleaching. Oddly, it is done without bleach!

At last the law on tooth whitening seems to have been sorted out by the EU. For the last twenty years or so, we've had a farcical situation, where a badly written law has made dentists very edgy about offering tooth whitening. There has been an anomaly in the law that has left the General Dental Council saying tooth whitening done by dentists was fine BUT the local Trading Standards officers have seen it to be illegal! We even had a dentist in our city prosecuted  while dangerous whitening being done by hairdressers, beauty therapists and nurses was being systematically ignored. Utter madness

How do you whiten teeth? Follow this link

So the law changes on 31st October 2012 - about time

Here's the new law as distilled down by the British Dental Association

Following extensive lobbying by the BDA and the Council of European Dentists, the EU Cosmetics Directive was finally amended in 2011. As a result the UK Cosmetic Product (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 come into force on 31 October 2012. This will change the law on the provision of hydrogen peroxide based tooth whitening products. The new UK regulations will mean that:

products containing or releasing over 0.1 per cent hydrogen peroxide cannot be provided directly to the consumer

products containing or releasing between 0.1 and six per cent hydrogen peroxide can only be sold to dental practitioners 

products containing or releasing between 0.1 and six per cent hydrogen peroxide can only be made available to patients following an examination with the first episode of treatment being provided by a dentist, or by a hygienist or therapist under supervision of a dentist (i.e. within the same dental setting) after which they can be provided to the patient to complete the cycle of use

products containing or releasing over 0.1 per cent cannot be used on persons under 18 years of age 

products containing or releasing over six per cent hydrogen peroxide remain illegal to use.

Carbamide peroxide based whitening products are covered by the regulations as they release hydrogen peroxide when applied. Products containing 10 per cent carbamide peroxide will release approximately 3.6 per cent hydrogen peroxide. This ratio should be taken into account by practices when selecting and ordering suitable carbamide peroxide based whitening products. 

The UK regulations make no distinction between in-surgery whitening and the provision of home whitening kits. Due to serious concerns regarding the safety of sodium perborate and chlorine dioxide based whitening products, these whitening agents should not be used.

No vagueness there!


Because of the vagueness of the previous law, there's been an ever increasing number of illegal tooth whiteners that have popped up in hairdressers, beauty parlours and even shopping malls. This new ruling clarifies things - to whiten teeth you have to be a dentist - end of story. Also, even if you are a dentist, the so called Laser whitening using high strength peroxides is also illegal.

Whitening of teeth done by people who aren't dentists, such as beauty therapists and hairdressers is utterly illegal. It's described as 'the illegal practice of dentistry' and it's a criminal offence. It's illegal because you need to know what you're doing and it takes five years full time training as a dentist to acquire the knowledge necessary to do it safely. Imagine bathing a tooth in  peroxide if it's got a hole in it! Or what if you have oral cancer? Your hairdresser won't do a mouth examination before they start.

So - do we whiten teeth?  From 1st November 2012 we certainly do!


Click on this link to find out how the General Dental Council have started successfully prosecuting non-dentists for providing bleaching


© Hesslewood Lodge Dental Practice, 16.11.2015