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“I can only describe it as a penetrating and terribly aching pain that lasted about 45 minutes,” says Richard Grieveson, who underwent a tooth-whitening procedure that went awry.
The problem was that in their treatment they used levels of a bleaching agent much higher than those legally allowed.
And Richard’s is not an isolated case.
The General Dental Council of the United Kingdom has warned that it is receiving more and more reports of illegal teeth whitening procedures.
And dental organizations in other countries have also warned about the health risks of these treatments without adequate supervision.
To find out how widespread the problem is in London, a BBC team conducted a covert investigation in which he filmed several beauticians offering illegal teeth whitening procedures.
One of them, called Fran Lowe, who accepts that “honestly, you’re not supposed to use what I use.”
“It’s the dentist (the one who should use it),” he says.
Indeed, the BBC found that, not only are these treatments being performed by people not trained to do so, but the levels of bleaching agent used in these places are much higher than those legally allowed.
The General Dental Council (GDC) of the United Kingdom states that only dentists and registered professionals must carry out the teeth whitening procedure.
Dental whitening products sold in stores usually contain 0.01% hydrogen peroxide, the bleaching agent used in the treatment.
But a registered dentist can use a maximum allowed level of 6% in his clinic. This is because, when used incorrectly, the compound can cause tooth loss, burns and blisters.
In one of the places that the BBC team visited undercover, he found that unregistered people used a 25% mixture of hydrogen peroxide.
Richard Grieveson assures that in the procedure to which he submitted himself, carried out by a beautician not filmed by the BBC, a mixture with 35% of hydrogen peroxide was used.
“A few days after (the treatment) my mouth got irritated and it made me very sensitive, basically it was like having open ulcers.”
“Lives at risk”
The BBC identified several places in London that offer illegal teeth whitening treatments.
Fran Lowe, Plaistow’s beautician in East London, was filmed using a 25% blend of hydrogen peroxide while admitting that it was illegal for her to carry out the treatment, carried out at home, and for which she charged US $ 105.
He was also recorded offering dental scraping, a procedure that should only be carried out by dental professionals.
In addition, Lowe sold the reporter a tube of carbamide peroxide, a product that when used in the whitening process is broken down to 7% hydrogen peroxide .
Then the woman refused to use peroxide gel and claimed that she had only sold it once. He told the BBC that he did not know that he was breaking the law and that he no longer offered the treatment.
In another case, beautician Ashleigh Smith charged $ 140 for teeth whitening despite admitting that she had only had a one-day training on the procedure.
As dentist Ben Atkins told the BBC, the video of beautician Fran Lowe is “the worst example they have seen” of an illegal practice.
“They are putting patients’ lives at risk by carrying out dental procedures outside of a dental clinic,” he said.
The GDC, for its part, did not comment on specific cases but the organization’s illegal practices chief, French Keen, declared: “If you see someone in a trade attending a one-day course and put this in perspective with the fact that dentists attend five-year training programs to get their license, then you know you’re putting yourself in danger. “
In Europe, both the European Council of Dentists (CED) and the General Council of Dentists of Spain, have also been concerned about the use of teeth whiteningtreatments without adequate supervision .
In a joint statement, both organizations state that “denture whitening treatments that are currently sold freely in any type of trade or in beauty centers, may contain concentrations of bleaching agents that may pose a risk to the health of patients if the Treatment is not done under the recommendations and without the follow-up of a dentist. “
“Burns, alterations in the mucous membranes or tooth sensitivity, are some of the side effects that can have for the health if the treatment is not supervised by a dentist”.
And the greater the concentration of the bleaching agent – the statement adds – the greater the negative effects on the patient.