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

Is Tooth Whitening a Gateway to Cosmetic Dentistry? (VIDEO)

In recent years, teeth whitening has become increasingly popular.

But in this survey, dentists indicated that over half of those patients do not go on to have additional cosmetic dentistry. Two out of three dentists reported a conversion rate of less than 40%.

Read more: Dental Makeovers May Start with Teeth Whitening

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

Tooth Whitening: Demand Is Decreasing

In this survey, we asked dentists if over-the-counter bleaching products have changed demand for in-office bleaching.

Two out of three dentists said there’s less interest these days. One out of six felt there had been no change, and another one out of six actually felt grocery store whiteners had actually increased demand for professional tooth bleaching.

“I can’t seem to give it away at 50% off!” complained a Massachusetts dentist. A Washington dentist disagreed, saying, “Over-the-counter bleaching often stimulates interest in other cosmetic treatments, especially when the patient does not get the result they want from whitening.”

Here are some other comments from dentists:

  • “Over-the-counter methods work! :-(” (Saudi Arabia dentist)
  • “Patients who have interest in whitening talk about it, creating more interest in the procedure. Ultimately, we dentists are asked about whitening.” (Texas dentist)
  • “When the OTC whitening products first came out I noticed a decrease in in-office bleaching. Now the level seems to remain pretty constant.” (Washington dentist)
  • “OTC methods are good maintenance products for after in-office bleaching.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “If a patient is obviously concerned with our fee for whitening, I recommend that they try White Strips or whatever. I explain that the effectiveness of whitening depends on concentration and length of time on the teeth. I explain why our procedure is better than over-the-counter solutions. I leave it up to them to decide.” (Utah dentist)

Read more: Consumers Lose Interest in Professional Bleaching

White Teeth Not a Priority When Times Are Tough?

Two out of three dentists say they’ve noticed a decrease in demand for tooth whitening since the recession began.

Some doctors have had to come up with new dental marketing strategies to counteract the decline in consumer interest for tooth whitening, cosmetic dentistry, and virtually anything else that costs money.

“We dropped the price by $50 during February for National Children’s Dental Health Month and Valentine’s Day,” said one general dentist. “The response was so good, we continued through March! In addition, we are receiving now referrals from these patients for more bleaching and new patients. That is a hell of a ROI on the bleaching!

Here are some other thought from dentists:

  • “Teeth whitening is the least costly way to improve the appearance of the entire mouth.” (General dentist)
  • “If it costs money, there is less demand these days.” (Indiana dentist)
  • “I have actually seen an increase in the number of bleaching cases that I have delivered in the past months. Recently, males have out numbered the females.” (California dentist)
  • “I think it’s also the availability of many OTC choices.” (Texas dentist)
  • “Once the illegal whitening kiosks in the malls and spas are closed, we will see another increase in whitening demand.” (General dentist)

Read more: Recession Reduces Consumer Demand for Teeth Whitening

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