Dentists: Has Tooth Whitening Gone Too Far? (video)

tooth whitening gone too farTooth whitening treatments have become one of the most frequently performed cosmetic dental services.

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Americans spend more than $1.4 billion on over-the-counter teeth whitening products.

But has the quest for blindingly white teeth gone too far?

One prosthodontist complained to The Wealthy Dentist, “Too many people have the Regis Philbin look: teeth that are too big and too white that look fake!”

In the following survey video we asked dentists about the subject of tooth whitening and here’s what they had to say –

What do you think? Has tooth whitening gone too far?

Non-Dentist Teeth Whitening: Did Dental Board Overstep Its Bounds?

Non-Dentist Teeth Whitening: Did Dental Board Overstep Its Bounds?In North Carolina, the State Board of Dental Examiners has to stop telling non-dentists that it is illegal to provide teeth-whitening products or services in their state.

In a unanimous opinion and final order issued by the Federal Trade Commission, it was determined that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners acted illegally when they pushed to bar non-dentist providers of teeth-whitening products and services from selling their products to consumers in North Carolina, as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

The original complaint stems from the dental board sending dozens of letters telling non-dentist teeth-whitening providers that they were practicing dentistry illegally and ordered them to stop. According to the WSJ, the board also allegedly threatened non-dentists who were considering opening teeth-whitening businesses. The board also sent letters to mall owners and property management companies urging them not to lease space to non-dentist teeth-whitening providers.

The final order upholds an initial decision by Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell in July and adopts Chappell’s order with minor changes.

To read the full story see: FTC: N.C. Dental Board Thwarted Teeth-Whitening Competition

Is Cosmetic Dentistry an Industry or an Art?

Everyone Loses if Health and Aesthetics Are at Odds

Last week’s editorial, Is Cosmetic Dentistry Dying?, stirred several comments, both insightful and controversial, about the future of cosmetic dentistry. (I’ve added highlighting.)

Are dentists losing control of cosmetics?

“I’m not at all surprised that cosmetic dentistry is on the decline. In fact, I’ve been saying this for at least 3-4 years. The manner in which dentistry embraced the need for everyone to have white, straight teeth as a life-changing necessity reminded me of the economic bubbles which have lead to catastrophic financial decline. Tooth whitening booths staffed by non-professionals seem to be legal and now abound in shopping malls, advertising their services with statements like ‘Why pay dentists hundreds of dollars when…’ Will prep-free veneers be the next service available over-the-counter?”

Larry Barsh, DMD
Founder, SnoringIsntSexy.com

Is it our own fault for being short-sighted?

“The trend is really not that surprising. Part of the problem is that dentists began to advertise and market towards cosmetic procedures and treated these issues prior to getting the patient healthy. This of course goes back to the opposing views between being in health care (as dentistry should be viewed by both patients and providers) versus being a business in which the bottom line is profit. Since cosmetic treatments are generally not covered by insurance, and are usually financially rewarding, many of our colleagues lost sight of our basic requirement (to get the mouth healthy) and performed treatment modalities the patient desired. Some of these treatments have failed because of the short sightedness of the doctor and now add in the financial disarray of the country and the declining trend is obvious. People are now trying to get by with the minimum.

Lawrence Bartos

So what does it mean?

I see at least three themes here: (1) the economics of dentistry; (2) dentistry’s obligation to health care; and (3) consumer demand. The trade-offs of the first two can be argued to infinity. But these arguments all get thrown to the wayside in light of “Consumer Demand.”

Last week’s graph is characteristic of consumer demand.

Cosmetic dentistry web trends

We have to remember that Cosmetic Dentistry has become an industry. Just count up the number of “Cosmetic Gurus” on the speaking circuit, the Cosmetic Institutes, and the number of Cosmetic Materials and Equipment suppliers. All of these groups have a major economic investment in beating the drum and growing the industry.

Even more important are the tens of thousands of dentists who have invested their hard-earned time and money in this industry. Cosmetics allow dentists to express themselves as artists. “Art” is an emotion. And I believe that it is this artistic emotion that has driven the Cosmetic Dental Industry to this point.

The real question, which we will explore next week, is centered on the “Demand” side of the equation. Is the market for cosmetic dentistry dying in face of the lack of consumer demand?

Post your comments

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

Better Teeth Make You Look Smarter

Your teeth look fantastic! You must be rich, happy and intelligent

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) recently conducted a study on how people’s teeth affect how they are perceived. Respondents saw a random sampling of “before” and “after” photos of cosmetic dentistry patients, and were asked to rate each person along several dimensions (attractiveness, intelligence, happiness, success, and other positive attributes).

The pictures of those who had had cosmetic dental work were rated higher along all dimensions. That means that people with better teeth were perceived as smarter, more attractive, happier, more successful, kinder and wealthier than those with crooked or dingy smiles.

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