Tooth Whitening Wars in North Carolina: Is Your State Next?

The FTC and Teeth Whitening Wars in North CarolinaIn North Carolina, tooth-whitening services can be administered by non-dentists in hair salons, retail stores, and at kiosks in shopping malls.

And the FTC in North Carolina believes a dentist doesn’t need to be present.

In 2010 the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners attempted to reign in the non-dentists by sending out 42 letters notifying tooth-whitening providers that they were illegally practicing dentistry and ordered them to stop.

As reported by DrBicuspid.com, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) then initiated an action against the North Carolina dental board, alleging that the board violated federal law in their attempts to block non-dentists from providing tooth-whitening services.

In February 2011, the dental board retaliated by filing a lawsuit against the FTC, accusing the commission of violating the U.S. Constitution in its attempts to keep the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners from regulating tooth-whitening services being offered by non-dentists.

A FTC judge fired back by denying the dental board’s motion to dismiss the FTC’s complaint and unanimously rejected the argument that the state action doctrine exempts it from antitrust scrutiny under the Federal Trade Commission Act.

The FTC judge further ruled that the North Carolina State Dental board’s efforts to block non-dentists from dispensing whitening services constitutes an illegal anti-competitive conspiracy.

In an email to DrBicuspid.com, Board attorney Noel Allen writes, “If a clear state statute, a century of court precedents, and the United States Constitution no longer allow the state of North Carolina, acting through its General Assembly, to define the practice of dentistry to protect our citizens from the illegal and unsafe practice of dentistry, then it should be the Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court that pronounces the death of that state right. The decision should not come from the FTC acting on its own initiative, without even so much as internal rule to support it.”

The North Carolina State Dental Board argues that they never tried to stifle competition and were only trying to protect the public from non-licensed dental treatments.

The battle between dentists and teeth-whitening providers is being fought in other states as well. Recently the Connecticut State Dental Commission ruled that tooth whitening is dentistry and can no longer be performed without a dentist present, while another judge ruled against the New Jersey Dental Association in their legal battle against a chain of tanning salons offering tooth-whitening services.

What are your thoughts? Do you think tooth-whitening services require a dental license?

For the entire story by DrBicuspid.com see: FTC Judge Rules That NC Dental Board Acted Illegally

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