Row over illegal whitening gel in Belfast hots up

Row over illegal whitening gel in Belfast hots up

A Belfast tooth-whitening clinic whose previous owner was convicted for using carcinogenic gel has refused to confirm that it no longer uses the banned substance, according to a report in the Belfast Telegraph. The HD Smile Clinic in the City has also refused to confirm if any of its staff are legally permitted to apply the product it promises will lift colour by eight shades in just one session.

The former director of the company, Samuel Irvine Madine, was handed a 12-month probation order for the use and supply of ‘carcinogenic’ tooth-whitening products after pleading guilty to five charges when a case was brought by Belfast City Council, following a complaint made in April 2015.  He has a previous conviction for a similar offence. On that occasion Madine admitted to unlawfully holding himself out as being prepared to practice dentistry. He also pleaded guilty to unlawfully using the title "dental therapist".

A previous search by the council’s Environmental Health Department which led to Madine’s conviction found four products which contained sodium perborate - a substance which is banned across Europe due to its cancer-causing properties. Testing also found all products to contain levels of hydrogen peroxide in excess of the permitted level of 0.1%. One product was found to contain more than 300 times the legal limit, breaching the Cosmetic Product Enforcement Regulations 2013.

The HD Smile Clinic is currently offering "sodium-based" laser teeth whitening with "instant results" for £49, and a technician there told the newspaper the whitening agent works wonders. "You are guaranteed eight shades whiter," they said. "It will last six to nine months and then you come back for a top-up. It only takes one or two sessions to get to your maximum whiteness."

A spokesperson for the BDA told the Belfast Telegraph that they were unaware of any legal agent that could provide the immediate results the Shankill Road business is promising. Scientific advisor to the BDA, Prof Damien Walmsley, expressed serious doubts over the service being offered. "It stretches credibility for anyone to deliver eight shades of whitening in a single sitting while operating within the law," he said.

Speaking following Mr Madine’s guilty pleas last month, a BDA spokesperson said the businessman was using levels of hydrogen peroxide higher than licensed dentists are legally allowed to use. "It’s the equivalent of brushing your teeth in bleach," they added. "Such high levels of hydrogen peroxide are likely to cause irreparable harm to teeth and gums, including blisters and burns to the gum and damage to nerves and tooth enamel. This man’s reckless disregard for his customer’s health is confirmed by his use of sodium perborate, a carcinogenic substance which is banned across Europe."

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