Teeth whitening might be the most popular cosmetic dental procedure for American consumers, but if recent reports from the U.K. are any indication of how well this trend is faring over the pond, it looks like Americans also have the upper hand when it comes to safe cosmetic dental procedures, too.
Just a few weeks ago, Janet Johnstone, an employee at the U.K.-based beauty salon Simply Chic, was caught performing teeth whitening procedures on patients without being licensed and certified by the U.K.’s General Dental Council (GDC). According to the Manchester Evening News, Johnstone has been penalized with a stiff £4,500 (approximately $6,950 USD) fine.
Johnstone reportedly told the Evening News that she was performing teeth whitening services at a lower cost than traditional dentists charge — because the real issue, she states, is “all about dentists thinking they are God and wanting to make money.”
The GDC has a different stance on the issue, and as the principal regulatory board for dental practices across the country, its regulations are aimed to protect patients by limiting who can perform teeth whitening procedures; specifically, only trained professionals in dental clinics (such as dentists, hygienists, and technicians) are legally permitted to provide this popular service.
Which is probably the reason why more people are turning to over-the-counter teeth whitening kits. While these kits can be found at any average drugstore or pharmacy and are significantly cheaper than professional whitening treatments, government regulations prevent the kits from containing the same strong ingredients and chemicals used by professionals.
But Johnstone isn’t the only person in Britain who has attempted — unsuccessfully– to circumvent U.K. dental regulations.
According to the Daily Mail, Trading Standards officers recently seized about 12,000 illegal teeth whitening kits, worth around £500,000 (or $770,000 USD), from a home in West London. The kits were reportedly being sold to unsuspecting customers over the internet, who didn’t realize that the whitening gels included in the kits contained 5.9% hydrogen peroxide — nearly 60 times the legal limit, which prohibits at-home teeth whitening products from containing more than .1% hydrogen peroxide.
As GetWestLondon states, teeth whitening products with high levels of hydrogen peroxide have been known to cause painful blistering and sensitivity in the gums and mouth, unless applied and monitored closely by a dental professional.
At this time, no reports of severe reactions to the illegal kits have been reported, and government officials have ordered that all 12,000 kits be destroyed immediately.