Professional tooth whitening is booming. Celebrity culture has contributed to the explosion in the popularity of tooth whitening systems. But while this is an opportunity for many practices Michael Farrow, SDI European Sales Manager, says more dental professionals should be warning patients of the dangers of illegal whitening.
Despite it being illegal for anyone not registered with the GDC to perform tooth whitening, a recent survey found 77% of dental professionals believe there is not enough public awareness around the legality and safety of whitening[i]. This highlights the need for more work to be done by dental professionals to raise patient awareness of the hazards of DIY tooth whitening systems and the necessity to only use trusted and reliable products that have been prescribed by the practitioner.
The consequences arising from illegal whitening can be severe, not just for the user who may suffer physically, but also for those supplying the treatments who can end up with a criminal record. In 2018 the GDC prosecuted 31 individuals across the UK, which have included fines and costs of more than £11,000. In fact, the GDC go as far as employing private detectives to gather evidence that these people are illegally whitening teeth, resulting in prosecution under the Dentists Act 1984.
Tooth whitening systems have been in the headlines once again after retail giant Amazon removed its best-selling kit from sale following reports revealing it contained a European Union-prohibited chemical, sodium perborate. Banned by the EU for cosmetic use for nearly a decade, studies have shown the chemical can damage fertility and harm unborn babies. This case further highlights how vital it is for the public to only use safety-proven products in consultation with their dentist.
Effectively marketing whitening in your practice is all about informing and educating patients to get the results they are looking for and reinforcing the message that legally only treatments prescribed by a registered dental professional containing up to 6% hydrogen peroxide and 16% carbamide peroxide can achieve this.
As the demand for cosmetic treatments increases, promoting and educating your patients around the legality of tooth whitening within your practice will make them more aware of the treatments available to them and the potential risks and consequences of going elsewhere.
Companies like SDI provide ready-made materials to make marketing their ranges of professional tooth whitening options effortless, including posters, leaflets, stands and stickers. Displaying these in reception and in treatment rooms can help raise awareness of this treatment. SDI also offer in-house ‘Lunch & Learn’ training sessions to help dental practices understand the benefits of the pola whitening system and how to inform and educate patients effectively.
[i] The Dental Survey 2018