Tracey Bell says the General Dental Council has prosecuted a number of unscrupulous practitioners carrying out illegal tooth-whitening treatments but says the problem persists. Tony McDonough reports
Household bleach is being used by rogue dentists to whiten teeth, putting people in search of the perfect smile at serious risk.
Liverpool clinic owner Tracey Bell says the General Dental Council (GDC) has prosecuted a number of unscrupulous practitioners carrying out illegal tooth-whitening treatments but says the problem persists.
Ms Bell runs two Tracey Bell clinics – one in Liverpool city centre and another in the Isle of Man – and is concerned that people who are keen to have their teeth whitened, but don’t want to pay out too much money, are falling into the hands of unlicensed operators.
She said: “Research indicates that 80% of patients would like whiter teeth – based on an extensive survey focusing on 18 to 49-year-olds. The problem of teeth whitening being completed by non-registered dentists still persists in 2018.
“Tooth whitening is a dental procedure and as with any dental or medical procedure, risks are involved.
“When non-registered and unqualified people attempt to provide teeth whitening, they are not licensed to purchase legitimate teeth whitening products for use by a dentist, so a whitening solution is often purchased from other countries or produced by themselves.
“All types of whitening agents have been found to have been used by unqualified practitioners and these include domestic bleach, caustic chemicals, along with whitening agents made up of nothing more potent than cellulose gel and water, which will produce no effect whatsoever.”
Ms Bell said she has had people arrive at her clinics with burns to their gums caused by badly-done treatments. In one case, the pain was so severe the patient had to be given a local anaesthetic.
“The main complaint I hear is from people attending my clinic after paying for a whitening treatment at a beauty salon, or online, which hasn’t worked,” she added.
“My advice is simply that in order to whiten teeth, the correct products need to be prescribed, the individual needs to be assessed and the risks, benefits and outcomes of the treatment need to be discussed with the patient.
“This can only be done by a dental surgeon with knowledge, experience and the correct education behind them to undertake teeth whitening.”
Ms Bells adds that it is a criminal offence to carry out teeth whitening if you are not a registered dental surgeon. The GDC offers guidelines for patients considering teeth whitening: https://www.gdc-uk.org/patients/illegal-practice/tooth-whitening