Claims against dentists accused of botched cosmetic surgery have soared by 80 per cent in the last five years, according to a new survey.
A quarter of Britons have had some form of cosmetic procedure, according to a survey by the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Unavailable on the NHS, people are reportedly paying out more than £2billion per year in pursuit of the perfect smile.
But Christopher Dean, director of the UK Dental Law and Ethics Forum, told The Times that he had reported a number of cases of “horrifically negligent practice” to the General Dental Council.
Despite his complaints, he says many are still allowed to practice.
He blamed the rise in claims on poorly-trained dentists setting up private cosmetic practices in a bid to cash in on the “gold rush.”
In 2015, the UK's six leading specialist dental societies published a joint statement in the British Dental Journal expressing concern at the risks of cosmetic dentistry, stating: “The desire for the alleged 'perfect smile' needs to be tempered with an awareness of the significant risks”.
Experts said many people start with a simple procedure like teeth whitening, but are then talked into having further work done such as veneers or cosmetic crowns.
Dentists have reportedly seen an increase in requests for corrective surgery when cosmetic procedures have gone wrong – from faulty implants to rotten bridges or collapsed jaws.
Mr Dean, who is a qualified dentist, is now calling for the General Dental Council to set up a separate register for cosmetic dentistry practitioners.
He added: “We are seeing more and more general dental practitioners leave traditional surgeries to join or set up private cosmetic firms.
“Many complain that the NHS does not remunerate adequately - unfortunately cosmetic dentistry is easy money. This is the gold rush.”