Dentists highlight potential breaches of new Tooth Whitening Regulations

Dentists highlight potential breaches of new Tooth Whitening Regulations

(21 Feb 2013)



The Irish Dental Association has said it is deeply concerned that a number of businesses which offer tooth whitening services here in Ireland could be operating illegally.

The warning comes after four tooth whitening businesses were unable to provide details on the gels they use for tooth whitening while only one of the four said their clients were examined by a dentist.

A new European Council Directive bans the use and sale of tooth whitening products which contain over 6% hydrogen peroxide – the chemical used in tooth whitening. Products containing more than 0.1% and up to 6% can only be administered in the first instance by a dentist, and thereafter on the prescription of a dentist. Tooth whitening is also restricted to those over 18 years of age.  Any course of tooth whitening has to be preceded by a full clinical examination to ensure the suitability of the case, in particular the absence of any oral pathology.

The warning comes after the issue of non compliance was highlighted in an article in the current edition of the Journal of the Irish Dental Association.

The IDA’s Dr Tom Feeney, said the Association would discuss the issue at its next National Council Meeting on the 8th of March.

“We are very concerned at the latest revelations. The purpose of the new Cosmetics’ Directive was to properly regulate the whole tooth whitening sector and to put an end to unregulated operators, in the interests of patient safety.  Many of the tooth whitening shops claim rapid success in the bleaching process but are extremely reluctant to disclose the active ingredient in the gels they apply. This would raise suspicions that illegal concentrations of hydrogen peroxide are being used as rapid one visit tooth bleaching is not possible with legal concentrations”, Dr Feeney said.

He said the IDA also had serious concerns about the training and qualifications of the personnel carrying out the procedure. “Only one of the four businesses contacted said a dentist examined clients. We believe this is wrong and that a dentist must always examine the patient to determine whether tooth whitening is a suitable treatment option and to ensure the absence of risk factors in the mouth. In addition tooth whitening is not appropriate for pregnant women or heavy drinkers or smokers.

When these new regulations were introduced last November we welcomed them as they ensure that qualified dentists are carrying out what is a dental procedure, that safe products are being used and that the treatment is restricted to those over 18. However the regulations must be enforced” Dr Feeney said.

The IDA had previously warned of the dangers of some products available via the internet which contain very high levels of hydrogen peroxide and which could be lethal in the wrong hands.

Anyone who directly imports a tooth-whitening product from outside the EU may be considered to be the responsible person and therefore legally accountable for ensuring that the product is in compliance with the legislation.

Dr Feeney urged anyone with concerns about the possibility of illegal practice to contact the Irish Medicines Board at

Advice to the public:

1.      Only go to regulated professionals, i.e. dentists

2.      If in doubt ask for the Dental Council Registration Number

3.      Ask for the product used and its concentration

4.      If a light is being used ask why - it has no effect

5.      Any concerns: contact the Irish Medicines Board


For Further Information

Contact Kieran Garry

Gordon MRM

01/6650455 or 087/2368366


Note to Editor

Certain information should be present on the label of tooth whitening products i.e., name and address of the responsible person, weight/volume, best before date, precautions for use, batch number, etc. – please check the Dental Council/IMB notice for the exact requirements.The rounded conversion value of 6% hydrogen peroxide is 17% carbamide peroxide.