The BBC Radio 4 consumer programme, ‘You & Yours’, yesterday (29 March 2017) discussed the issues around self-administered teeth whitening and the involvement of beauty therapists. After contributing to the debate, BABTAC (the British Association of Beauty Therapists and Cosmetologists) is re-asserting its advice to therapists to avoid offering this treatment to clients and so protect themselves from falling foul of the 1984 Dentists Act.
The sale of self-administered teeth whitening kits is not illegal as long the ingredients contain less than 0.1% peroxide. Above this threshold and legislation states that a dental product must only be used by a qualified dentist. Currently, it’s legal for any member of the public to buy and self-administer a whitening kit, and for any beauty therapist to sell it to their clients.
However, the 1984 Dentists Act also states that only dentists can give advice and guidance about any treatment involving teeth. Recent court cases have ruled that therapists were acting illegally to assist clients with the application of these kits.
This situation means that beauty therapists can sell these kits to clients and allow clients to apply them to their own teeth, even if this is within their salon. But if they subsequently give any advice or guidance to the client regarding the kit, or even open the kit on behalf of the client, then the therapist is viewed as contravening the Dentists Act.
“At the moment, we feel that the whole situation regarding teeth-whitening has unprecedented loopholes, brought about by advancement in technology” said Lesley Blair, Vice-Chair of BABTAC.
Although it’s not illegal to sell such equipment or allow people to use a kit on their premises” she continues “any therapist will want to help a client who needs some assistance, and a client would probably think it strange that a therapist wouldn’t answer a simple question about the treatment. We’re again advising therapists in the strongest terms not to sell these kits in the first place. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be allowed to sell such kits to therapists but that’s not realistic expectation right now.”
BABTAC is calling for clarification of some description, whether a change to the law or the issuing of a formal advisory notice, to help therapists know exactly where they stand, and is willing to participate in discussions with the relevant parties to agree a way forward.