Only dental practitioners that are registered at the Health Professions Council (HPC) of South Africa are allowed to bleach teeth.
Beauty salons and spas using unregistered individuals to provide this service are breaking the law, said the South African Dental Association (SADA).
Dr Jeff Michelson of SADA recently said that in the last few months the association received various complaints about people who make themselves guilty of this criminal offence according to the Health Professions Act.
According to Michelson SADA reported the issue at the HPC in 2009. The HPC referred SADA to the police. But a lack of manpower and in some cases also a lack of medical knowledge make it difficult to investigate these cases properly. The police also needs support from the HPC.
Ms Maretha Smit, chief executive of SADA, said they are worried about the increase in dental services by people without any medical training. According to SADA some service providers probably don't know that they are breaking the law by bleaching teeth.
If these procedures are not done correctly, patients can be left with permanent damage, including sensitive teeth and damage to the gums.
The long-term effects of strong bleaches on tooth pulp (tissue within the tooth) and enamel is also still unknown. – Antoinette Pienaar/Beeld, Julie 2011
Oral Health Centre