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The law relating to tooth whitening changed in October 2012. The main changes are as follows: –

• The new legislation strictly forbids non-dental professionals from purchasing or providing hydrogen peroxide-based tooth whitening treatments.
• Only a dentist is allowed to carry out whitening treatments using hydrogen peroxide (6%), however they may prescribe peroxides to registered dental hygienists and therapists to carry out procedures once the initial consultation has been completed.
• A dental patient is allowed to carry out tooth whitening at home as long as they have seen a dentist that has prescribed the whitening solution and fully discussed the procedure of how to use the products and have given the pros and the cons to the treatment. It is ILLEGAL for companies to sell whitening gels and products to the general public over the counter.
• It is not to be used on a person under the age of 18.
• Hydrogen peroxide can be used but no more than 6%.

The BBC recently publicised a programme on ‘Illegal tooth whitening’, whilst secretly filming they managed to expose many beauticians which were carrying out these procedures. Not only is it ILLEGAL but there are many risks to not having whitening carried out by a dental professional.
• If your whitening trays are ill fitting the peroxide can leak into ones’ mouth which can result in swallowing and ingesting large quantities. 
• When not conducted by a dental professional there is also a risk of burning your gums, which may lead to gum recession which is irreversible.
• Peroxides that are not regulated and are higher than the 6% can cause serious damage to the tooth which can lead to long term sensitivity.
• Not everybody is suitable for tooth whitening, this very much depends on what restorative work you may have present as it doesn’t work on crowns, fillings, bridges and implants. Your oral health may also not make you a suitable candidate. 

Buying home kits or seeing unlicensed people carries so many risks and again is ILLEGAL for these individuals to provide whitening treatments with peroxides. It takes a Dentist 5 year to become a registered and fully trained dental professional. Some beauticians therapists have had a ‘one day training course’ in whitening so it is worth putting this into perspective and making the right choices to avoid harm to oneself.

Natalie Laduso
Dental Hygienist