Dental experts are warning that illegal teeth whitening treatments are seeing a surge on the high street, with a recent BBC investigation uncovering some shocking findings in London in particular…

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In our tea addicted land,  teeth whitening  has transitioned from a celebrity rite of passage to a popular at-home and in-clinic treatment for many of us, but a BBC investigation  has uncovered that a number of beauticians in London are offering the service, often with less than a day’s training, causing risk to clients’ health and wellbeing, not to mention putting them in extreme pain.

Undercover filming by BBC journalists found that one beautician used hydrogen peroxide (the agent used to whiten teeth) at a level of 25 per cent during treatment- the maximum legal strength for dentists is 6 per cent. To put this into perspective further, at-home treatments typically contain 0.01 per cent hydrogen peroxide.

Used at high levels, hydrogen peroxide can cause severe pain, ongoing sensitivity, sores and even tooth loss, but despite the side effects, and the fact that most beauticians are aware that it’s illegal to offer teeth whitening treatments unless you’re a registered dental professional, many continue to do so. The BBC discovered multiple salons in London offering treatments, charging between £75-£100 for teeth whitening and selling on the likes of 7 percent peroxide gels for at-home use (also against the law). One clinic also offered further treatments such as ‘teeth scraping’, despite a lack of dental qualifications and training.

The General Dental Council (GDC) reports that incidences of illegal teeth whitening in particular are on the increase, and in a recent public survey, the GDC revealed that while 80 per cent of a subsample of people considering teeth whitening would seek treatment at a registered dental clinic, 20 per cent would consider teeth whitening treatments at a beauty salon, hairdressers or at-home.

Speaking to the BBC, head of illegal practice at the GDC Francesca Keen warned against taking shortcuts to achieve sparkling teeth:

“If you're seeing someone on the high street that's attended a one day course and putting that into perspective - dentists attend a five year training programme in order to qualify - you're putting yourself in harm's way."

To check whether any individual offering teeth whitening services is registered to do so, or to log a complaint, visit the  General Dental Council website .

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