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Spas and salons carrying out dangerous teeth whitening have nowhere to hide, after a landmark legal case.

An MP has hailed the potential to finally target the lucrative high-street industry – with beauticians at risk of prosecution and heavy fines. And Sir Paul Beresford – a key player in the British Dental Bleaching Society – has unveiled a package of measures to ensure the crackdown is a success.

The move follows a victory for the General Dental Council (GDC), which won a legal battle to establish that anyone performing bleaching is carrying out dentistry.

In his ruling, on beauty therapist Lorna Jamous, Lord Justice Moss said: ‘The public is to be protected from treatment offered by those who are not qualified as professionals.’

A growing number of businesses are believed to be offering cut-price whitening in an industry put at £8 million a year in one estimate. But Sir Paul, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on dentistry, said: ‘Now there will be nowhere to hide for these places. The GDC has proved, legally, that if someone does bleaching it is considered to be part of dentistry.

‘They have got the legal decision now, which means they are able to take this issue on with much more strength. And the whole profession is pulling together, including organisations such as the British Dental Bleaching Society.’

To ensure the momentum is kept up, Sir Paul, Conservative MP for Mole Valley, said the Society would:

  • Allow dentists to report cases of damage from illegal whitening on its website, evidence which would be passed to the GDC
  • Also urge dentists to send photographs of such damage, to be sent on to the GDC
  • Press local authority trading standards officers to take action against anyone using illegal materials, or solutions above permitted strengths.
  • Meet with department of health ministers and officials to push for Government help, probably in October.
  • Press the GDC to write warning letters to businesses known to be bleaching. to explain the implication of the legal ruling, urge them to stop – or face legal action.

Sir Paul said the Society had already written to the GDC chairman on the last point, adding: “I had a positive response. In the past, the GCD has been remarkably slow in taking action, but now this case gives them the strength to do much more about it – and I hope they will.”

The GDC has already reported a worrying rise in complaints about whitening – up from 390 in the whole of 2012, to 700 in the first three months of this year alone.


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