UK’s dental regulator updates guidance on tooth whitening

​8 November 2012

UK’s dental regulator updates guidance on tooth whitening


Following changes to an EU Directive that came into force at the end of October 2012, the General Dental Council (GDC) has issued a position statement on tooth whitening.

The GDC regards tooth whitening as the practice of dentistry and it must only be carried out by a registered dentist or a dental hygienist or dental therapist on the prescription of a dentist.

The amendments to the EU Council Directive (76/768/EEC) affect the strength of chemicals used in tooth whitening products. They do not change the position of who can carry out tooth whitening lawfully.  The GDC will continue to prosecute individuals who carry out tooth whitening illegally under the Dentists’ Act 1984.

Read the full position statement.

Advice to patients

The GDC has a patient leaflet available online ( ) and in print. It includes a useful list of questions for anyone considering tooth whitening.

  • What types of tooth whitening are available and what are the differences between them?
  • What sort of results can I expect?
  • What can you do about stained veneers, crowns or dentures to make sure they match my natural teeth?
  • Who will be carrying out the procedure?
  • Is the work guaranteed for a certain length of time?
  • What aftercare do you provide and who can I contact for advice after treatment?
  • What kind of insurance or indemnity do you have?

Anyone who has suffered harm as a result of tooth whitening should contact the GDC.


Notes to editors:

• It should be noted that the GDC does not enforce the law around this Directive. This role is fulfilled by Trading Standards.

• Further research on public attitudes to tooth whitening can be found here: