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Illegal tooth whitening

If you are considering offering tooth whitening and you are not on our register, you are likely to be breaking the law and you are putting yourself at risk of prosecution in the criminal courts.

The GDC is keen to engage with, and provide accurate information to, those who may have been misled into believing they can legally provide tooth whitening treatment. Please do not ignore our warning letters if you have received one - get in touch to discuss your position.

If we receive complaints that someone who is not on our register has offered or provided tooth whitening treatment, we take these very seriously because of the risk this poses to patient safety. We will investigate all complaints in line with our Prosecution Policy and, where appropriate, we will prosecute them in the criminal courts.

These cases carry an unlimited fine in the England and Wales and the courts have shown that they take them very seriously, sometimes fining individuals thousands of pounds. Details of our previous prosecutions can be found in our news section.

If you are concerned about tooth whitening products that you have seen on sale, we have more information to assist you.

 

Frequently asked questions

No. The law says that only registered dentists, dental therapists, dental hygienists or clinical dental technicians working to the prescription of a dentist can legally and safely provide tooth whitening treatment.
 
Offering or providing tooth whitening if you are not a registered dental professional is illegal and you may run the risk of being investigated and prosecuted in the criminal courts with the potential of an unlimited fine.​
If you are not a registered dental professional, it is illegal for you to offer tooth whitening treatment regardless of any short training course that you have undertaken. You should stop offering treatments immediately and remove all advertising as, to do otherwise, might put you at risk of a criminal prosecution. Dentists train for several years to enable them to safely assess patients for this treatment and to safely and legally carry it out. They are also able to intervene should an emergency arise.
 
If you were misled in relation to the training you undertook, the GDC is unable to provide legal advice but please do contact us with any information you have or, alternatively, Trading Standards or the Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to assist you in relation to your options.
 
The GDC is the UK's regulator for the dental profession. Its primary purpose is to protect the public from the risk of harm and it will also investigate and prosecute appropriate cases where people offer illegal acts of dentistry.
 
The GDC is always keen to engage with members of the public and one of the reasons that warning letters are sent in the first instance is to seek to educate and give people an opportunity to bring their conduct in line with the law. Should you receive a letter and wish to discuss it further, please do contact us.
 
The GDC is unable to provide legal advice but would recommend that any individual who receives one of our warning letters and it unsure of the appropriate course to follow should seek independent legal advice rather than trusting the word of the provider who has sold them a tooth whitening training package and may have a vested interest in them continuing to offer treatments. You are also able to search our website for details of previous prosecutions where individuals have been prosecuted whilst having been 'trained' by many well-known providers.​
The GDC is always keen to engage with members of the public and one of the reasons that warning letters are sent in the first instance is to seek to educate and give people an opportunity to bring their conduct in line with the law. Should you receive a letter and wish to discuss it further, please do contact us.
 
The GDC is unable to provide legal advice but would recommend that any individual who receives one of our warning letters and it unsure of the appropriate course to follow should seek independent legal advice rather than trusting the word of the provider who has sold them a tooth whitening training package in the first place and may have a vested interest in them continuing to offer treatments. You are also able to search our website for details of previous prosecutions where individuals have been prosecuted whilst having been 'trained' by many well-known providers.
No. The GDC is the UK's regulator for the dental profession. Its primary purpose is to protect the public from the risk of harm and it will also investigate and prosecute appropriate cases where people offer illegal dental treatments. The GDC is also tasked with ensuring that dental professionals adhere to the appropriate professional standards to ensure patient safety and confidence in the profession. As the High Court has confirmed that tooth whitening can only legally and safely be carried out by registered dental professionals, the GDC will enforce the law in this area by investigating and, where appropriate, prosecuting cases where individuals and companies act in breach of the law.​
The GDC can only act on information that it receives about people offering illegal treatments. If you have information that you wish to share in order to protect the public, please do contact us.
 
When the GDC receives information that someone is offering illegal treatments, we will investigate in line with our Prosecution Policy (541.6 KB, PDF).
 
Some cases will justify a warning letter to explain the law and offer a chance for an individual to stop breaking the law and other cases will demand more serious action, such as prosecution. This will be assessed against various factors, including the public interest and the risk of harm to the public.
The GDC has worked hard with the organisers of several beauty shows and daily deal companies to ensure that only those who are properly registered are able to advertise there but we can only act on information that we receive about people offering illegal treatments. 
 
If you have information that you wish to share in order to protect the public, please do contact us.​
The GDC has a duty to investigate allegations of criminal offending and also has a duty to safeguard the personal data​ of any individual that provides information to allow it to carry out this vital function. The GDC takes its role of public protection very seriously and therefore we are unable to provide the details of those who provide us with information in relation to the discharge of our duty in this respect.