London: Some beauty salons are breaking the law by having untrained staff carry out potentially dangerous teeth-whitening procedures, the UK consumer group WHICH has warned.
The chemicals used can damage gums and cause chemical burns if applied incorrectly, says a new report.
A reporter for the magazine posing as a client at six London beauty salons was told in every case that their teeth-whitening was not done by a dentist. The procedure is illegal if carried out by non-dentists, according to the regulator General Dental Council (GDC).
Three of the clinics admitted using chlorine dioxide – a very acidic chemical usually used to purify water, and which can wreck tooth enamel – while the other three used hydrogen peroxide at strengths above the legal limit. Some of them also advertised laser whitening, which has “no proven effect”, Which? said.
Research shows there has been a 12% increase in teeth-whitening treatments since the smoking ban came in. Beauty salons often undercut dentists’ prices, but many employ beauty therapists who undertake only a few days’ training before being allowed to apply chemicals which could harm customers’ gums.
The six London clinics – which are not named – are among 70 in England being investigated by the GDC. It is keen to prosecute under the Dentists’ Act, which could lead to hefty fines. Last year, Ben Nahab pleaded guilty at Norwich magistrates court to illegal dental practice after he burned the gums of a dental nurse while demonstrating a whitening product. He had falsely claimed to be a dentist registered to work in the UK.
Most of the clinics in the Which? survey reassured customers that side-effects such as white spots on gums or lips where bleaching agent leaked from a shield were “perfectly normal”.