Many people care more about whether a beauty product is effective than whether or not it is a genuine, regulated item.
This explains why there are many thriving, unregulated businesses in the UK distributing untested and potentially unsafe products.
According to FreshDental.co.uk, tooth-whitening solutions form a large part of this illegal industry and many, although partially effective, can cause severe periodontal bleeding and/or chemical burns.
Thankfully, one of the largest distributors of these do-it-yourself (DIY) tooth-whitening kits in the UK has finally been caught and prosecuted.
A Multi-Million Trade
John and Matthew Hargreaves, a father and son who specialised in the UK-wide distribution of tooth-whitening kits, are estimated to have made more than £3m over the course of nearly a decade. Despite the fact that the kits were illegal, the pair firmly believed that their products were safe to use and that the claims of bleeding gums and chemical burns were unsubstantiated.
The Guardian reported, however, that, ‘Merthyr crown court in South Wales was told that their products contained dangerously high levels of hydrogen peroxide, which can be used as a bleaching agent.‘ The Hargreaves were found guilty of fraud and were sentenced to 18 months in jail.
The authorities set up ‘Operation Gleam’ to investigate John and Matthew Hargreaves following the discovery of advertisements claiming that their tooth-whitening product was ‘ideal for any age group’ and ‘used by leading dentists throughout the UK and Europe’.
On analysing the product, it was found to contain up to 110 times the permitted levels of hydrogen peroxide.
Looking to the Future
During their 8 years in business, the Hargreaves caused serious harm to their clients through their unregulated tooth-whitening kits. Perhaps the dental profession now has an opportunity to educate the public about the dangers of DIY tooth-whitening kits and the value of undertaking the procedure only under the supervision of a regulated dental practice.