On 3 October 2019, Rachael Barnes and Rachel Burton of Sheffield were both found guilty in their absence of illegally practising dentistry. Rachel Burton was also found guilty of illegally carrying on the business of dentistry. These offences related to illegal tooth whitening. Ms Barnes and Ms Burton were ordered to pay over £4250 in fines, compensation and legal costs by Sheffield Magistrates’ Court.
Following a complaint received in May 2019 from a member of the public who suffered burnt gums after the illegal treatment was carried out by Ms Barnes and Ms Burton, 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 .