Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
Historically, the ASA has investigated many ads for toothpaste and other products for teeth. See below for specific sections relating to toothpaste, teeth whitening, and the evidence that may be required for advertising claims. Also, we have amalgamated advice for dentists, such as the use of the term “doctor”, and any dentists looking to offer Botox or other facial aesthetic injections in their clinics.
Marketers of dental products or who operate in the dental sector are encouraged to familiarise themselves with Section 12: Health.
Anyone looking to market toothpaste is in the first instance must ascertain whether their product is cosmetic, medicinal, or a medical device, via the MHRA.
See Dental: Toothpaste for more information.
As above, products designed for sensitive teeth, or products that can prevent (for instance) bleeding gums, are often classed as medicines or medical devices. As such, in most instances marketers must hold a licence to make claims. See Dental: Sensitive Teeth for more information.
Marketers offering teeth whitening (via lasers, kits, toothpaste etc) should not exaggerate the results that can be achieved through their product or service through digital manipulation of imagery (or otherwise) and must hold evidence that their product or service can genuinely whiten the teeth. Furthermore, they should be aware of the legalities surrounding the offer of teeth whitening procedures.
Marketers of braces must take care to not exaggerate the capabilities of their product, and must hold robust evidence in the form of clinical trials. You can read our enforcement notice on braces and dental devices here.
Marketers making any objective claims must hold evidence. You can read more about the type and level of evidence required in dental and cosmetic claims here.
Marketers looking to make a comparison about their dental products vs their competitors’ products must hold robust evidence, and ensure their comparisons are fair, honest and verifiable. See Comparisons: General for more information.
Any before and after photos of dental treatment, teeth whitening/straightening or anything similar must be genuine and representative - and marketers must hold signed and dated proof of this.
Dentists who refer to themselves as “Dr”, “a doctor” or similar, should take care not to imply that they hold a general medical qualification if they do not.
See Use of the term "Dr": Dentists for more.
CAP has seen an increase in dentists and dental clinics wishing to offer facial/ anti-wrinkle injections.
Anyone looking to offer these treatments is reminded that some products in this sector, including Botox, are prescription-only and cannot be advertised to the public.
Rule 12.18 states that marketers must not use health professionals or celebrities to endorse medicines. Dentists can be used to endorse cosmetic products but should not be used in ads for toothpastes that are medicinal by either function or presentation.
See also Celebrities and Health Professionals.