Safe tooth-whitening and the law

Most people would love to have whiter teeth, and it’s a relatively affordable procedure these days. However, you need to be careful about selecting a provider for your tooth-whitening, and here’s the reason why.

In October 2012, a new European Council Directive was enacted which bans the use of and sale of tooth whitening products containing over 6% hydrogen peroxide, the chemical used in tooth whitening.

Illegal tooth-whitening dangerous

Despite this directive, many businesses are still offering whitening products to their customers that are simply too strong.

In fact, the Irish Dental Association has said it is deeply concerned that a number of businesses which offer tooth whitening services here in Ireland could be operating illegally.

The warning comes after four tooth whitening businesses were unable to provide details on the gels they use for tooth whitening while only one of the four said their clients were examined by a dentist.

Products containing more than 0.1% and up to 6% can only be administered in the first instance by a dentist, and thereafter on the prescription of a dentist.

Tooth whitening is also restricted to those over 18 years of age.

Any course of tooth whitening has to be preceded by a full clinical examination to ensure the suitability of the case, as in some cases using bleaching products is just not safe or appropriate.

Concerns about Patient Safety

Patient safety is the concern of the IDA, and fear of illegal concentrations of hydrogen peroxide in rapid ‘one visit’ tooth bleaching.

The IDA’s Dr. Tom Feeny says they also had serious concerns about the training and qualifications of the personnel carrying out the procedure.

“Only one of the four businesses contacted said a dentist examined clients. We believe this is wrong and that a dentist must always examine the patient to determine whether tooth whitening is a suitable treatment option and to ensure the absence of risk factors in the mouth. In addition tooth whitening is not appropriate for pregnant women or heavy drinkers or smokers.”

“When these new regulations were introduced we welcomed them as they ensure that qualified dentists are carrying out what is a dental procedure, that safe products are being used and that the treatment is restricted to those over 18. However the regulations must be enforced.” Dr Feeney said.

He also warned that tooth whitening products bought over the internet may not be in compliance with the European rules, and that their safety could therefore not be guaranteed.

High Hydrogen Peroxide Levels Potentially Lethal

The IDA had previously warned of the dangers of some products available via the internet which contain very high levels of hydrogen peroxide and which could be lethal in the wrong hands.

Anyone who directly imports a tooth-whitening product from outside the EU may be considered to be the responsible person and therefore legally accountable for ensuring that the product is in compliance with the legislation.

Dr Feeney urged anyone with concerns about the possibility of illegal practice to contact the Irish Medicines Board at

Advice to the public


  • Only go to regulated professionals, i.e. dentists
  • If in doubt ask for the Dental Council Registration Number
  • Ask for the product used and its concentration
  • Any concerns: contact the Irish Medicines Board

Smile Store – Your Local Dental Specialists can provide their patients with Zoom Whitening at the appropriate concentration of hydrogen peroxide, after an examination to ensure you are a suitable candidate.

Your overall health is of paramount concern to us, so we will always do what is best for you.

For more information please see our articles on Tooth Whitening at or call 021 432 0004

Tax Relief

Tax Relief

Tax relief is available on many different dental procedures available at Smile Store – The Dental Specialists.

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