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Dental Services: Standards

Volume 472: debated on Thursday 21 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to (a) issue guidance and (b) propose regulations on tooth whitening (i) procedures and (ii) practitioner professional standards; and if he will make a statement. (184326)

In 2001, as a result of action by the manufacturer and distributor of a tooth whitening product, the House of Lords made a judgment that the Government had the right to consider tooth whitening products as falling under the EC Directive on Cosmetic Products(76/768/EEC) and therefore within the terms of the Cosmetics (Safety) Regulations.

Currently the Schedules to the Cosmetics (Safety) Regulations restrict the permitted percentage of hydrogen peroxide present or released in cosmetic products used in the mouth to 0.1 per cent. but we understand that the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products has given its opinion to the European Commission that the permitted limit may, subject to prescribed conditions, be increased to 6 per cent. We are awaiting the Commission's response to this advice.

The General Dental Council (GDC), which is independent of Government, is responsible for the professional standards of dentists and dental care professionals. We understand that the GDC considers that tooth whitening constitutes the practice of dentistry. Any registrant who undertakes work for which they are not sufficiently competent risks fitness to practice proceedings.