In October this year the EU brought forward new rules to regulate the whitening of teeth. Until now it has been somewhat of a legal grey area, with the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations being at odds with the Dentists Act 1984 which make it illegal for anyone who is not a dentist to preform the business of dentistry – the position held by the General Dental Council.
The EU clarifies this, making it clear that only very weak whitening products (those containing less than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide) can be purchased freely by consumers.
Any stronger whitening products can then only be supplied to dentists and used under their supervision.
In simple terms what this means is that only dentists will be able to perform tooth whitening, in a safe, regulated and legal way for patients, and will make unregulated high street “whitening studios” illegal.
These regulations apply to Hydrogen Peroxide which is the only safe, researched method for tooth whitening, however some high street whitening studios are using Chlorine Dioxide which is not safe for teeth. Many of the Chlorine Dioxide gels are acidic. The pH range is from 1-3. As a result of the acid effect directly on the teeth, the resultant effect is that of etching the tooth permanently. The tooth looses its tooth lustre or shine and this can be a permanent effect. Many of the clients have reported that the teeth seem to pick up further staining and become even more discoloured than before the treatment. The resulting discolouration is yellow to brown. Many patients report increased tooth sensitivity which is difficult to manage and not easy to desensitise. If you are considering tooth whitening you should askl what is being used, any Dentist will be happy to tell you!
The UK along with all other EU countries will have 1 year to add this to their national laws.