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Emma McLeish, who ran Sparklem in Ashford, fined for illegal teeth whitening

A woman was hauled in front of a judge and fined for putting people "at risk" by illegally whitening their teeth.

Emma McLeish, from Ashford, was found guilty of offering the service at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court, where she was ordered to pay more than £7,000 in fines.

Katie Spears, head of criminal enforcement at the General Dental Council (GDC), said the watchdog's previous efforts to educate McLeish were ignored.

Sparklem salon was hauled before the courts (4573433)
Sparklem salon was hauled before the courts (4573433)

“Our primary purpose at the GDC is to protect the public from harm. Illegal tooth whitening represents a real risk as those who carry it out are neither qualified to assess a patient’s suitability for the treatment nor are they able to intervene should an emergency arise.

"When we receive a report of illegal practice, we seek to educate those involved about the dangers and the law in relation to tooth whitening.

"Where our efforts are ignored, as in the case of Ms McLeish, we will, where appropriate, prosecute in the criminal courts,” she said.

Mcleish ran the company, called Sparklem, from Sweet Bay Crescent in Ashford according to its Facebook page.

It says the firm, open since 2010, can whiten teeth “14 shades whiter in under 60 minutes” and provide home visits.

The investigation followed a member of the public's complaint to the GDC, the UK's dental regulator, that discovered McLeish didn't hold the relevant qualifications.

Under UK law the treatment can only be performed by a dentist, dental therapist, dental hygienist or a clinical dental technician working to the prescription of a dentist according to UK law.

McLeish was found guilty in her absence at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday, and fined £5,000 and ordered to pay a £170 victim surcharge.

She was also ordered to pay costs to the GDC of £1,868.30.

Sparklem's Facebook banner (4573435)
Sparklem's Facebook banner (4573435)

McLeish claims to have treated more than 10,000 people and the Kent Messenger was advertising her services until August this year.

According to her Facebook profile she is listed as having an NVQ Level 3 in Beauty Therapy and provided a budget teeth cleaning service.

Internet testimonials brand the service "brilliant, professional and friendly."

One customer heaped praise on the service following a home visit where their teeth came up eight shades lighter.

"My teeth were quite off colour to start with and they came up seven shades lighter on the top and eight on the bottom set, I was amazed with the results and thought it was excellent for the price compared to other companies I've seen.

"Afterwards everyone commented on how white my teeth were and I would recommend this company and Emma to everyone."

Sparklem - Before and after (4575039)
Sparklem - Before and after (4575039)

Another review adds: " It wasn't as expensive as I`d been quoted by another company, so that was an added bonus - I have already passed on their number to friends.

The GDC, the UK-wide regulator of more than 100,000 dental professionals warned people to report suspected foul play.

"Under the Dentists Act of 1984 it is a criminal offence for a person who is not a registered dentist or a registered dental care professional to practise dentistry.

"Where we have sufficient evidence that individuals who aren't registered with us are committing offences associated with practising dentistry, operating the business of dentistry or using protected titles, we will bring criminal prosecutions.

"Cases of suspected illegal practice can be report via the GDC's website."

Sweet Bay Crescent - Ashford (4575223)
Sweet Bay Crescent - Ashford (4575223)
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