In 2008, the General Dental Council issued a press release in the wake of its Scope of Practice consultation which took place earlier that year. The GDC states: ‘Dental hygienists and dental therapists can carry out tooth whitening on the prescription of a dentist, if they have the necessary additional skills. Taking impressions to a dentist’s prescription, and making bleaching trays to a dentist’s prescription, are within the scope of additional skills for dental nurses.’
Under the new law introduced by The Cosmetic Products (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (The ‘Regulations’), hygienists and therapists may provide tooth whitening using products containing or releasing up to 6% hydrogen peroxide under the direct supervision of a dentist, if an appropriate level of safety is ensured.
This Regulation is not altered by the fact that direct access to hygienists and therapists came into effect from May 2013. The tooth whitening treatment will still need to be provided under the direct supervision of a dentist. Dental Protection advises members that it is appropriate that the dentist is on the premises when the first use of the tooth whitening product is provided to the patient by a therapist or hygienist. An examination by the dentist prior to the cycle of tooth whitening is also required.
The Regulations prohibit the supply of the tooth whitening products containing or releasing up to 6% hydrogen peroxide to anyone other than a dentist. This means a hygienist or therapist cannot legally purchase these tooth whitening products to use on patients.