Many people are unaware that teeth whitening products that contain over 0.1% hydrogen peroxide that are sold over the internet are illegal. It’s also illegal to get your teeth whitened by beauty salons, sun bed shops and hairdressers – the only legal place, and the safest place, is your dentist.

Previously, legislation for teeth whitening procedures has been, at best, vague and unclear. This seemed acceptable when the treatments were limited to dental practices, where patient care was standardised, documented and controlled. This lack of legislation suddenly became a concern; when teeth whitening was no longer restricted to dental practices. With an increasing amount of beauticians, spa hotels and therapists offering customers the chance of a gleaming smile, changes and updates in the law were long overdue.

New EU guidelines were introduced in September 2012 to try and protect the health and safety of individuals seeking teeth whitening treatment.

The new law distinguishes clearly the products that a professional dentist can utilise in practice, and those that a non-dental individual can use. Only qualified dentists are allowed to buy teeth whitening products with 6% hydrogen peroxide. Products that contain over the 6% hydrogen peroxide level remain illegal to use in a dental practice or to sell in the market. Only products with 0.1% hydrogen peroxide or less are legal to sell in the open market in the EU. This safeguards the patient and inhibits those not qualified carrying out teeth whitening procedures.

Another helpful addition to the new law is the requirement that the first treatment has to be done by a dentist (or under their direct supervision.) This is good news for dental professionals as it allows dentists to supervise patients undertaking tooth whitening at home as well as those going through certified whitening treatment at their practice. They have been heavily enforced, and individuals who defy the latest regulations, have faced the heavy hand of the law.

Mr. Barrington Thorpe was jailed for eight months for selling a tooth-whitening product that was found to contain or release more than the legalized amount of hydrogen peroxide. Under the company name Smile Brighter Marketing Limited, Thorpe sold the illegal product since 2005. Teeth whitening products sold on the open market are allowed to contain 0.1% hydrogen peroxide. The level in Thorpe’s product was over 65 times this amount! ( Nov2012)

In short, if you live in Europe then the only place where you can legally get effective whitening is from your dentist. There are still some websites selling products such as teeth whitening gel or teeth whitening strips illegally but eventually the owners of these websites will be prosecuted and/or shut down. If you are interested in whitening your teeth then ask your dentist for a consultation and they can discuss the options for you. For more information on our teeth whitening strips that are available from dental practices click here.