GDC prosecutions underline the severity of offering illegal whitening treatments

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Recently, former webcam girl, Chelsey Harwood, 30, was prosecuted by the General Dental Council for offering illegal whitening treatment. The story was covered by the local and national press, and some readers expressed the view that she had been unfairly punished and was actually doing nothing wrong by administering whitening treatment. The law, however, says otherwise, and the GDC is keen to underline the severity of the crime and the potential impact on patients who unwittingly undergo treatment.

Chelsey Harwood failed to appear in court and was found guilty of providing dental treatments without the relevant training and qualifications at court in Liverpool. Wendy Lloyd, district judge, said that Ms Harwood could have caused serious harm to people who trusted her to give them a bright, white smile. The truth of the matter is that offering any kind of dental service without formal dental qualifications and GDC registration is against the law, and Ms Harwood was warned about the consequences of her actions as a result of the findings of preliminary GDC investigations. Representatives from the body posed as customers and were offered treatment by Harwood.

Many people may assume that whitening is a straightforward treatment, but there are risks involved, particularly when whitening agents fall into the wrong hands or the wrong kinds of products are procured. There have been cases involving people using super-strength bleaching agents, which are not approved for legal use in the UK, and examples of patients sustaining severe burns and enamel loss as a result of receiving treatment from amateurs. The GDC is eager to show that it is taking a hard line on whitening and anyone who is offered illegal treatment is advised to contact representatives of the organisation.

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