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Unlicensed whiteners paying their own ARF?

21 August 2015

Unlicensed whiteners paying their own ARF?

Hello readers, and welcome to this week’s newsletter! It was roughly a year ago when the ARF furore was in full swing and a news story this week certainly caught the attention, and it most definitely gives dentists who weren’t in favour of the ARF increase food for thought.

This week, a BBC journalist approached a man on the street as he was about to open up his shop for the day. Spooked, the man fled in what looked like an expensive enough car. So what was the problem? Well, Samuel Irvine-Madine was opening up the HD Smile Clinic despite having been brought to court by the GDC a mere 4 months ago for illegally practising tooth whitening.

Fast forward to August and Mr Irvine-Madine is still offering the same services at around £60 per person. It’s not hard to see why he’s still doing it. His sanction upon pleading guilty was £500 – just over half of what dentists now have to pay annually for their ARF. If this man, or anyone for that matter, can offer these services without the proper training, accreditation and registration and risk only a (relatively) small fine – his own form of ARF – then why shouldn’t he keep carrying on?

If getting caught requires you to pay such a fine, then why not keep doing it? The law does not allow for a custodial sentence to apply in these cases. These unlawful practitioners are free to offer these potentially dangerous services and pay only a fraction of what dentists have to pay to simply be on the register. I doubt many of these unlicensed tooth whiteners are aware of that, but for dentists this is surely incredibly frustrating.

They’ve been fighting their own regulatory battles for quite a while now, and see these unlicensed practitioners receiving a slap on the wrist and fined less than what they must pay each early to practice at all. The GDC’s response was to lament the legislative restrictions (sound familiar?) that make it impossible for them to do anything about the situation.

To be fair, their spokesperson gave a good account of just how dangerous it to receive treatment from unlicensed practitioners. For dentists, however, this is yet another reason to lament the current state of affairs.

It may have only taken a day or two to pay back the fine for illegally offering tooth whitening if you carry on offering those same services, regardless. For the dental profession, however, a year on from the furious ARF debates, they may have to pay for some time yet.

What do you make of this case? Should the sanctions be tougher for these unlawful practitioners? Comment below or send us your thoughts to

Until next time…

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