Illegal Tooth-Whitening Flourishing - Despite GDC’s Successful Prosecutions

Illegal Tooth-Whitening Flourishing - Despite GDC’s Successful Prosecutions

A Dagenham man has been found guilty of unlawfully offering tooth whitening after a successful prosecution brought by the General Dental Council.

Mr George Patel was accused of performing illegal whitening at his former business, Revive Teeth Whitening, in Romford, in July 2020.

The Romford Recorder reported that Mr Patel, a 62 year-old who had never held registrations as either a dentist or dental care professional, was fined a total of £6,900 after a Deputy District Judge found the GDC’s case proven.

The Recorder said Aniksha Patel “Told the court she contacted Patel after finding his business, Revive Teeth Whitening, while looking for a birthday present for her mum.”

“At an appointment at the Western Road facility on July 27, she opted to have a one-off treatment worth £130 herself to see how effective it was.”

“Ms Patel described walking into an office that ‘didn’t look like a dental practice’ for the consultation.”

“She said: "Before I could question what was happening, Mr Patel inserted the guard into my mouth and put the 30-minute timer on."

“The civil servant said she quickly began to feel ‘anxious, waiting for that timer to go’ and burning from the gel on the guard.”

“After being advised she could eat and drink as normal, Ms Patel paid in cash after being told this was the only accepted payment method.”

“She said she was in pain after 30 minutes but it intensified on July 29, and a phone assessment saw Ms Patel prescribed antibiotics.”

“The diabetic recalled ‘not eating for four days’ following the treatment.”

The GDC was represented by barrister Tom Orpin-Massey. He told the court  “The defendant said he did not actively conduct tooth whitening, but provided a facility for others to do it.

“The GDC’s case, supported by the complainant Ms Patel, is that the defendant did more than this," reporter Cash Boyle wrote.

Mr Patel’s defence counsel Defence barrister Philip Misner grilled Ms Patel on alleged inconsistencies between her live evidence and a statement previously given to the GDC.

The defence counsel claimed Ms Patel self-administered the treatment.

“During his evidence, Patel consistently denied any conduct that could amount to treatment,” the newspaper said.

“In response to Mr Orpin-Massey’s assertion that he was offering ‘a service,’ Patel replied ‘No, I was offering a facility.’”

“When asked why he wouldn’t just choose to sell the whitening kits provided online, he said ‘I chose to provide a facility.”

The court heard that Mr Patel had avoided responding to a letter sent to him by the GDC last year, accusing the regulator of writing to him frequently in the hope he would ‘close his business and disappear.’

The judge found the prosecution’s assertion  that  Mr Patel had provided treatment, proved, and described Mr Patel as ‘evasive.’

Although the GDC has successfully prosecuted many individuals illegally carrying out whitening, GDPUK has found many non-dental businesses still openly advertising tooth whitening, despite warnings from dental professionals and the GDC itself.

One beauty clinic in a Midlands cathedral city was yesterday offering “LED NON-PEROXIDE COSMETIC TEETH WHITENING. SAFE & EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO PEROXIDE TEETH WHITENING - FULLY LEGAL & INSURED.”

The clinic offered tooth whitening services in addition to tanning, hair, aesthetics and beauty treatments.

GDPUK approached one UK-based company that has a prominent presence on the internet.

The company offers the supply of light units, non-peroxide whitening gels and training courses for individuals wishing to set up tooth-whitening businesses.

An operator told our reporter that the company was acting legally.

In its training section, the company’s website said yesterday “The GDC believes that tooth whitening, regardless of the gel used, should be considered the act of dentistry and that it should, therefore, be restricted to dental professionals only. However, this position clearly contradicts the provisions of European Directive 2011/84/EU, which states that a dental background is only, required when gels of Hydrogen Peroxide are used between 0.1% and 6% H2O2 and not when they contain less than 0.1%.”

The website also said “Teeth whitening products were confirmed as being cosmetics on 28th June 2001 by the House of Lords ruling in the case of Optident Limited and another V. the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.”

The company appears to be ignoring the judgement from 2013’s High Court case involving the General Dental Council v Jamous.

In that case, the High Court case in which the court agreed that teeth whitening treatment comes within the meaning of the practice of dentistry as identified in section 37 of the Dentists Act 1984, and therefore superseded the 2001 Lords ruling.

The company said on its website “We DO NOT touch the customer’s mouth, teeth or gums; provide advice, recommendations or a diagnosis. Our training heavily emphasises this and we are proud to be leading the way forward, for a safe and legal cosmetic teeth whitening industry.”

“We use a non-peroxide gel in a pre-filled syringe; this is a safe, legal and an effective alternative to peroxide gels for the whitening of teeth.”

The company boasts that since 2002, only two of its brand ambassadors had been accused of breaching the Dentists Act 1984, and both were cleared.

But one of the accused, although she denied the charge, had the case against her dismissed when it was found two retired detectives who were investigating her had failed to caution her when they should have done.

But in February 2017, a beautician who had been offering whitening services from her home after training with the same company, was successfully prosecuted and ordered to pay £2,000 after being found guilty of practising illegal dentistry.

The Mail Online reported that a customer complained to the General Dental Council after being left with bleeding gums.

The Mail quoted the company’s website that said ”If you follow the correct guidelines of selling our product, you will not be prosecuted for cosmetic teeth whitening. We also have additional insurance cover for full protection against the General Dental Council (GDC).”

“Pleading guilty to being an unregistered person practising as a registered dentist or dental professional, and a further count of being an unregistered person carrying on the business of dentistry, (Madison) Crabb claimed she was ignorant of committing a crime,” the Mail reported.

Before the first UK COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, the BBC’s Inside Out team used undercover reporters who exposed a beauty school providing ‘Thousands’ of candidates with illegitimate qualifications.

The BBC News website said “The BBC uncovered several companies offering just a few hours of training for fraudulent qualifications.”

“Two undercover BBC researchers attended a course with the London School of Nails and Beauty that lasted five hours.”

“Attendees were told they could earn ‘from £80 upwards per session’ after receiving a certificate, which they were told would allow them to set up their own business to treat customers.”

In 2019, the GDC told the BBC that there had been an increase in complaints related to illegal tooth-whitening.

The BBC website said that in 2019, “732 cases of illegal-teeth whitening were reported to the GDC, a 26% increase from 582 in 2018 - though the figure was higher in 2016.”

“The dentists’ regulatory body relies on reports from customers, so the real number could be much higher.”

“The GDC said it had launched 126 prosecutions against illegal teeth whiteners since 2015.”

BBC News highlighted that the GDC “Lacks the powers to prosecute those performing training, such as those filmed by BBC London.”

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