tooth whiteningThe illegal tooth whitening industry is being driven in the UK by single adults, new research has found.

Thousands of Brits have admitted to having their teeth whitened by illegal and untrained providers, according to a poll carried out by the Oral Health Foundation.

The poll also found that one in four single adults (24%) had undergone teeth whitening with almost half (45%) using an illegal provider.

‘When done incorrectly, tooth whitening can lead to severe chemical burns and the possibility of permanent scarring, tooth loss and in extreme cases affect the ability to eat and even breath,’ Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said.

‘Tooth whitening is the practice of dentistry and we urge anybody considering getting their teeth whitened to do so, not only correctly but safely too.

‘It may cost a little more at the dentist, but you are removing yourself from great risk by placing yourself in the hands of a qualified professional.’

Illegal tooth whitening

In 2011 tooth whitening became illegal for anybody other than a qualified dental professional to carry out in the UK.

Despite this many beauticians and salons are still carrying out the treatment, with every case brought before the General Dental Council since it became illegal resulting in a successful prosecution.

Tooth whitening is a growing industry, thought to be worth around £40 million annually.

‘Much of this problem can be attributed to those carrying out the tooth whitening procedures and not being aware that what they are doing is completely illegal,’ Helen Minnery, president of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, said.

‘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.’