The Facts Not Fiction About Legal Teeth
Whitening in the United Kingdom.
As a responsible teeth whitening company and the largest of its type in the North East of England we
take the requirements to operate within lawful parameters very seriously.
We have noticed (especially since the beginning of 2012) an increasing amount of misinformation
and scare mongering which seems to be flooding the marketplace in connection with the legalities of
teeth whitening within the U.K.
A lot of the aforesaid information seems to emanate from the dental profession and organisations
allied to it.
Now one can only speculate and theorise as to the real motives (as opposed to the stated objectives)
behind some of the statements that we have read and came across over the past few months - and
because these same statements are in some cases an outright misrepresentation of the actual facts,
we have felt somewhat obligated to respond in order to set the record straight.
We have read articles and testimony over the recent months, in particular from individuals and
organisations mentioned above, which make statements in connection with the legality of teeth
whitening in the U.K. - which at the very least is stating their ‘opinion’ as being ‘fact’. This simply
cannot be left any longer to remain unchallenged.
As a reputable business who takes pride in the service we offer our clients, we feel strongly that the
record must be put straight and the facts made clear to all concerned.
The general public regards doctors, dental surgeons and organisations allied to those professions
with a great deal of respect – and quite rightly so, they’re highly skilled in their respective areas and
are providing a vital service.
Because of that high esteem, it’s not hard to see why the average member of the public may well
assume that anything and everything which is stated by such professionals is accurate, factual and
where implied – the law.
Of course in the vast majority of cases it is, however there is one exception to that rule, an exception
where the waters have become increasingly ‘muddied’ and that exception is this; who precisely can
legally offer a teeth whitening service – and linked with that question, what products can also be
used legally too?
This report is designed to clarify the law as of the date of writing – September 2012.
These then are the FACTS, some of which appear on our website.
For clarity I’ll begin with a legal ruling lifted directly from our website F.A.Q. page, it’s this legal
definition which more or less opened the doors to allow non-dentists to perform teeth whitening
procedures and appears below in italics
Teeth whitening products were confirmed as being 'cosmetics' on the 28th of June 2001 by the House
of Lords ruling which took place in the case of Optident Limited and The Secretary of State for Trade
and Industry. This means that they fall under the European Union Cosmetics Directive (implemented
in the U.K. by the U.K. Cosmetic Products (safety) Regulations 1996. Tooth whitening is therefore
legally a COSMETIC procedure and NOT a DENTAL one.
The legal definition of a 'cosmetic' product is as follows: "any substance or preparation intended for
placing in contact with the various external part of the human body, or with the teeth and mucous
membranes of the oral cavity, with a view, exclusively, or principally, to cleaning them, perfuming
them, or protecting them, in order to keep them in good condition, change their appearance, or
correct body odours"
It should be noted - as the General Dental Council states - that the above ruling relates to the
classification of PRODUCTS and not teeth whitening PROCEDURE - nevertheless its publication
opened up the ability for non-dentists to offer a teeth whitening service because allied to that ruling
is the fact that there is no specific law that categorically and unequivocally states that teeth
whitening must be carried out by a dentist only.
It is noted that the General Dental Council uses terms such as: ‘the Council considers that tooth
whitening amounts to the practice of dentistry’ or ‘we believe’ etc.
In other words the above statement is merely their OPINION. The reason they don’t come outright
with a less ambiguous statement is because they know the act to which they refer, omits to
specifically mention ‘teeth whitening’ by name.
We suppose there is one final obvious statement which helps to strengthen our point - and it’s this,
if teeth whitening is really the sole preserve legally of the dental profession, why are there
hundreds if not thousands of independent teeth whitening companies and franchises operating
throughout the United Kingdom? That’s not forgetting of course that in the land of the free –
America – teeth whitening flourishes too and they use levels of bleach which are banned here.
Trading Standards are the government body assigned with policing this and other sectors of the
market, they have wide ranging powers to prosecute and take action against traders who break
specific laws – but the ONLY time, to the best of our knowledge they ever intervene with teeth
whitening companies is if a complaint is made of harm caused by the use of an illegal product such
as Hydrogen Peroxide at levels in excess of 6% OR a company is suspected of operating without
Public Liability Insurance or seen to be offering dental advice.
If a teeth whitening company is operating legally and ethically they’re left alone to trade – THAT’S
why teeth whitening continues to flourish in the U.K. and I might add around the entire world.
Not surprisingly non-dentists who undertaken teeth whitening are (in a lot of cases) despised by the
dental profession, although not by all.
We read a forum thread in 2012 where some dental professionals were discussing a recent
prosecution (as well as others) by the G.D.C. of non-dentists who had been operating without
insurance and other issues - some of the comments were shocking because of their ignorance of the
law, one asked why so many hundreds of non-dentists were still being allowed to practice following
the prosecutions? Could it be because they were prosecuted for reasons which are not being made
CRYSTAL clear in the publicity that follows?
Another complained about the amount of money these supposed ‘illegal’ operators were making, no
mention was made of the last time they’d seen a poor dentist of course.
In a perverse kind of way it’s possible to sympathise with their ignorance because they believe what
is supplied to them - in the manner in which it is being supplied.
So let us make clear, the case or cases to which they were referring and wondering why hundreds of
similar companies operate with seeming impunity is because the prosecution succeeded because
the LEGAL non-dentist teeth whitening business was NOT breaking the law by offering and
undertaking the service – they were successfully prosecuted because they were using illegal
strengths of product, operating without insurance or stupidly seen to be offering dental advice when
they are not qualified to do so – so to answer the female dental forum member – THAT’S why the
non-dentists continue to operate and flourish – as long as they operate within the law - and not
outside it – they will continue to operate – LEGALLY.
But that rule applies of course to ALL legitimate businesses and is only common sense.
To further substantiate that opinion is being stated in G.D.C. communications (in connection with
non-dental teeth whitening) the following quotes are also in the public domain:
"It is the Council's view that applying materials and carrying out procedures designed to improve
the aesthetic appearance of teeth amounts to the practice of dentistry" and "Therefore all tooth
whitening procedures, including bleach and laser treatment, are seen as the practice of dentistry by
the General Dental Council."
Notice the use of the words "the Council's view" and "are seen as"
But there's something missing - once again they don't say it's the LAW - because it isn't - it's
merely, as we wish to make clear - their OPINION and their own interpretation of how THEY see
So if any dentist or dental professional ever tells you categorically that teeth whitening companies
(who are not dentists) are practicing illegally, you can tell them that they’re WRONG, their
statement is not backed up by case law and is ONLY their governing bodies OPINION which in its self
is not law.
Examples of successful prosecutions are often bandied around to defend their ‘belief’ – but as will
be obvious throughout this report, that belief is based on information that is flawed and is not
backed up by the legal profession as a whole.
We guarantee that if anyone researches the subject, especially with the plethora of information
available on the Internet, they will see that despite protestations from the dental fraternity that
non-dentists are trading illegally (by offering a teeth whitening service) the legal profession (who
after all administer and know the law) hold a completely contradictory view based on case law.
Naturally the latter individuals step in to prosecute if illegality is evident from non-dentists by the
use of strengths of product which are over and above those allowed by law and as a consequence
have produced accusations of harm from members of the public.
Prosecutions of that type are to be welcomed by dentists and non-dentists alike.
May we be so bold as to suggest that those non-dentists who have carried out hundreds, if not
thousands of teeth whitening treatments are probably better and more proficient at the actual
procedure than some dentists?
How many teeth whitening treatments does the average dentist undertake per year? That’s one
thing we don’t know for certain, but to hazard a guess it’s probably not as many as a successful non-
dental teeth whitening specialist.
One look around the teeth whitening market place will show you that not every dentist offers a
teeth whitening service, after all, they’re highly skilled surgeons and many no doubt have more than
enough business in their traditional field of expertise.
Freeing up their highly skilled time to focus 100% of it to their patient’s oral health and overall
dental care would surely produce more beneficial results (in a variety of different ways) for their
We can’t speak for everyone of course, but when members of our staff have attempted to make an
appointment with a dentist, the waiting time can vary from days to weeks (unless you have an
emergency of course) however we hasten to add that is when appointments are made ‘on spec’
rather than when you visit for a regular check-up and your next appointment is made knowingly,
months in advance – but I think a lot of people would agree a good proportion of people DO call
speculatively because they tend to make a dental visit when they need to, as opposed to when they
We as a company respect dentists and that isn’t being said in a sycophantic may, it’s merely a
statement of fact that the public (in general) hold the profession (as well as that of others) in high
esteem, but acting within the law isn’t just something that non-dentists need to do – clearly we ALL
should in whatever area we operate in.
We know of a local dentist who had a rant on his blog because someone told Trading Standards he
was using illegal levels of bleach and they closed that part of his business down.
We ourselves had a visit from our local Trading Standards Department when a competitor (not a
dentist) accused us of using 42% Hydrogen Peroxide – I don’t believe it’s even available to the teeth
whitening industry at strengths of that level – anyway, along they came – they asked for a supply of
our product to test, which we gladly supplied and they duly confirmed about a week later that we
were ok to continue and that we were definitely NOT using 42% Hydrogen Peroxide gel.
So that said, to summarise, reiterate and further clarify where needed let’s state some facts – NOT
Based on the House of Lords ruling, teeth whitening products are legally classified as cosmetics and
further there is NO law in place which states specifically and categorically that a ‘teeth whitening’
procedure must be carried out only by a dentist – if you’re told differently – it simply is NOT true.
But if the law ever DOES change – you’ll learn about it here first - and we’ll adhere to it.
Following a European Directive, which the U.K. is expected to adopt, and which aims to clarify what
products can be utilised in the teeth whitening procedure, it has been agreed that Hydrogen
Peroxide can be used by non-dentists providing the said product has a strength of no greater than
0.1%. Most companies are sticking to that ruling until it ends up on the U.K. statute book and
The Directive however also states that ONLY Dentists may be supplied with and use Hydrogen
Peroxide with a strength which is GREATER than 0.1% but does not exceed 6%.
There is a provision within the document in connection with the product’s use at the latter
mentioned strengths, which states that a full examination prior to treatment is also required and a
qualified dentist (not a dental nurse) must undertake the first cycle of treatment themselves.
We have seen one website (non-dental) where it’s stated that from Monday October the 1st 2012, it
will be illegal for salon owners to offer a teeth whitening service – that is a lie – there is no such law.
To further validate that statement, you will note that the salons we deal with from October the 1st
2012 onwards will be operating exactly as normal – why? Because there is no law that prevents
them from doing so.
As long as a non-dental company are using Hydrogen Peroxide in strength no greater than 0.1% or
using a non-bleach product, they are operating legally and therefore within the law.
That’s despite any protestations to the contrary from organisations or individuals who state
otherwise - and who perhaps have a vested interest in seeing the removal from the market place of
those people who they classify as competitors.
We have seen scare mongering tactics such as threats of legal action and mention of successful
prosecutions having taken place.
Let us be clear – any prosecution of ANY company in the teeth whitening industry has been brought
about because of a complaint of the illegal use of a teeth whitening product – usually Hydrogen
Peroxide in strengths way above the legal limit of 0.1% - or because the company concerned had
perhaps given dental advice which no one (other than qualified dental professionals) can provide. A
third act which is illegal is operating without Public Liability Insurance cover - but no prosecution is
successful simply because someone was running a teeth whitening business!
We applaud ANY successful prosecution of any dental or ‘non-dental’ company who are proven to
be using illegal strengths of products - and in the latter case - those who are prosecuted for not
having Public Liability Insurance cover, or are stupidly giving dental advice.
The General Dental Council’s raison d'être is to represent their members and protect their interests
as well as of course to protect the public from rogue elements in whatever way, shape or form they
may manifest themselves - so I welcome their intervention where appropriate – and obviously
where it is evident that a REAL law has been broken, but simply ‘believing’ ‘thinking’ or ‘considering’
the law has been broken in other ways doesn’t make it the law – it’s merely an opinion – not fact!
Scare mongering and making statements (of any kind) as if they are factual and based on the law of
the land may be deemed by some members of the general public to be deliberately designed to
manipulate, mislead and cloud the issue – we of course are simply saying that’s what some people
could believe, if someone (indeed anyone) behaved in that manner.
Both the General Dental Council and the British Dental Association's opinion is that teeth whitening
in all its forms should be the preserve of dentists.
That is their ‘opinion’ and that is fine, we have no argument with that, in the same way that you may
or may not believe in ghosts, that too is an ‘opinion’, it doesn’t make your belief factual and neither
does it make it, where appropriate – law – no matter how much you may want it to be.
Remember, neither of the dental organisations mentioned above has a mandate or the ability to
make laws – ONLY our government can do THAT!
So beware of any statement - from anyone - that says categorically that only dentists can undertake
teeth whitening – at the very least that’s scare mongering, but more importantly it’s simply NOT
That said, as already stated, it IS true that only a dentist can (will be able to) whiten teeth using
Hydrogen Peroxide in strengths greater than 0.1% and up to 6% - however there are several other
products freely available to non-dental companies which are equally as effective as Hydrogen
Peroxide and have less adverse effects too - such as teeth sensitivity.
WHY USE US?
So why consider Smile Sensation U.K to have your teeth whitened, well here’s a few to begin with:
1: We operate within the law, ONLY using products which are SAFE and LEGAL.
Even though we could also legally use Hydrogen Peroxide at 0.1% - we don’t - because the
strength is too weak to be effective, we therefore use non bleach products.
2: We recommend people have a professional dental check-up at their local surgery BEFORE seeing
us (assuming they haven’t already paid a recent visit)
3: Our operators all hold certification (following training) together with £1,000, 000 worth of public
4: Our prices are one of the lowest around – we do not and never will aim to be the cheapest in the
country – because there will always be someone who will try and undercut you in order to make a
quick buck – there is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ in business – when the price becomes TOO cheap
– Caveat Emptor!
6: We’re professionals, we welcome any future enhancement in the teeth whitening industry such as
further mandatory training or qualifications aimed specifically at the non-dental outlet.
7: We’re NOT out to be a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ company. We’re here instead to provide an
ethical, professional, efficient, effective and LEGAL service to our valued customers.
WHY THE SCAREMONGERING?
Well one can only hypothesise as to the reasons, obviously I have my own personal views, and some
people may no doubt allege that misleading or ambiguous statements are designed with
‘protectionism’ in mind.
One client of ours suggested that if one product or service is placed firmly in the hands of only one
sector, that group acquires a HUGE amount of power to affect the price for good or for bad, it could
also be argued that this makes the provision of such a service very lucrative for the people providing
it, especially if they’re the only ones able to supply it.
Now we’re not saying that this is the desired end result behind any kind of ambiguous statement,
merely that common-sense dictates that some people may well form opinions of that nature.
If the statements are then all wrapped up with a pretty ribbon in the form of “we’re also doing this
to protect the public” it most certainly comes across as altruistic in nature.
Does anyone truly believe that if you have a monopoly in the private sector that this is a good thing
for the British consumer? Is restricting consumer CHOICE conducive to competitive pricing?
Personally I don’t think so, but of course, like the General Dental Council – my comment above is
only an ‘opinion’ – not law.
If you look at most dentist’s websites that offer teeth whitening, the preferred brand is Zoom which
in essence is a laser teeth whitening system that has uses high levels of bleach.
Other dental outlets prefer to supply you with trays, retailing (on average) between £150 and £350
and you are sent on your way to use these yourself over a period of (usually) a couple of weeks
Beware of Zoom or similar systems, the technique is widely known within the teeth whitening
industry for having used (and still using) a peroxide level of 25% - that’s over FOUR times the legal
Yes, that means that some dentists have been operating illegally too.
When using strengths of this nature they have to use protective ‘dams’ which coats the gums, this
helps prevent customer contact with the product, a gauze is also used in order to cover the chin,
upper lip and surrounding area when strengths of this type are used.
As this is illegal, it should be reported to Trading Standards in your local area so they can act on
UK laws are made for all of us and are put in place to protect us all.
Legal products: (Teeth Whitening Specialists AND
Sodium Bicarbonate - B Zero - Chlorine Dioxide - Sodium Perborate - Hydrogen Peroxide up to
0.1% - Hydrogen Peroxide up to 0.1% to 6% maximum (Dentists only)
It’s worth pointing out that the reason the Zoom technique uses 25% bleach is because the legal
limit of 6% maximum is widely regarded as being ineffective - producing poor, or no noticeable
Illegal products (Teeth Whitening Companies AND
Zoom! (25%) - Beyond Max (35%) - Beyond II (35%) - Pola Day (9.5%) - Pola Night (22%)
Pola Zing (35%) - Any Carbamide Peroxide Product above 16% (sold for home or clinic use)
Any Hydrogen Peroxide Product above 6% (sold for home or clinic use)
If you’d like to have your teeth whitened LEGALLY and PROFESSIONALLY contact
Smile Sensation U.K.
0845 833 99 61 (Local rate from a landline and certain mobiles)
(0191) 586 41 88)
We’re open 7 days a week between 9am to 9pm for your convenience.
If you’d like to take part in our survey (which is obviously completely optional) you can visit the
survey page by visiting the link below.
There’s only three questions, so nothing lengthy, mostly just requiring a yes or a no answer (unless
you wish to elaborate) but that’s your choice.
If the link on your computer isn’t ‘clickable’ with your mouse cursor, simply copy it from this
document and paste directly into your browser window.
Whatever you do, we thank you for reading this document, its purpose was merely to answer
some of the questions being raised because of the abundance of misinformation which is
becoming increasingly prolific.
To that end, we hope it has answered the two MAIN questions for which it was designed to do,
Who can whiten teeth legally within the U.K.?
What teeth whitening products are legal or illegal to use in the U.K.?