On 10 September 2019, Tara Thomas of Beckenham, South East London, pleaded guilty to two charges of illegally practising dentistry and one charge of illegally carrying on the business of dentistry. These offences related to illegal tooth whitening. Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court ordered Ms Thomas to pay nearly £4,000 in fines, legal costs and compensation to the victims.
Following two complaints received in February 2019 from members of the public, our criminal enforcement team launched an investigation.
Jennifer Stewart, Head of In-House Appeals and Criminal Enforcement at the GDC, said: “Our primary purpose at the GDC is to protect the public from harm. Illegal tooth whitening represents a real risk as those who carry it out are neither qualified to assess a patient’s suitability for the treatment nor are they able to intervene should an emergency arise. The GDC takes reports of illegal practice of dentistry very seriously and, where appropriate, will prosecute in the criminal courts.”
Under the Dentists Act 1984, and following the High Court's ruling in GDC v Jamous, the legal position in relation to tooth whitening is very clear. The treatment can only be performed by a dentist or a dental therapist, dental hygienist or a clinical dental technician working to the prescription of a dentist.
Anyone considering tooth whitening should first check the register of dental professionals on our website here to ensure the individual offering the treatment is qualified to do so.
If you suspect any cases of illegal practice, report it here.