Scandal of courses in teeth-whitening that ‘puts patients at risk’

In February 2020, Ben Morgan of the Evening Standard reported on increasing cases of illegal teeth whitening which is leaving patients at risk of damage to their gums or even losing teeth. 

Ben reports:  “Some 732 cases of illegal teeth-­whitening were reported to the General Dental Council regulator last year, an increase of 26 per cent on 2018.

It comes as an investigation by the BBC’s Inside Out found that beauticians and others in the £2 billion cosmetic dentistry industry are being taught how to whiten teeth in just five hours.

It is illegal to give a treatment if not registered with the General Dental Council. Dentists train for years to offer the treatment safely. The procedure has exploded in popularity as people look to replicate the perfect white smiles of stars such as Kendall Jenner and cast members of Love Island.

The BBC investigation found a training school in west London was charging £300 to train people in a day. It comes amid numerous reports of damage to nerves and gums from treatment given by unregistered practitioners.

Dr Ben Atkins, president of the Oral Health Foundation, told the programme: “I’ve been that dentist with the full back-up service when the patient’s had that heart attack. And it’s nothing I’d want to go through again.

“It would be catastrophic for the patient and the person who’s been trained and told it’s legal to do it.”

In the BBC London film the reporter, posing as a student on the one-day course, asks a trainer what to do in a medical emergency.

They are told to “phone an ambulance like anybody else”, and are also encouraged to carry out the procedures in their bedroom or living room. The trainer suggests the treatments are legal.

The school declined to comment to the BBC.

Dr Len D’Cruz, of the British Dental Association, said such training schemes were “a sham”. He told unregistered practitioners: “You’re at risk of ending up in jail or being fined.”  end of Ben Morgan’s report.

It seems that people signing up for these courses are doing so in good faith, but they are being seriously misled and making themselves vulnerable to prosecution if any of the treatments they deliver goes wrong.  

Please don’t take risks with your health.  You may already have an underlying condition which requires attention prior to whitening.

If you want to discuss teeth whitening with your dentist, just call your dental surgery to book a consultation.  These are usually free of charge. 

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