So far, at least 30 states have taken action against non-dentist teeth-whitening businesses. Some states have passed new laws or regulations to ban them from the trade, and others have reinterpreted existing laws against the unlicensed practice of dentistry.
Erickson and Sherman argued that banning entrepreneurs from the teeth whitening business hurts both business owners and consumers. They said that these bans take jobs away from Americans and raise teeth whitening services for the public, who may see higher prices at the dentist.
The authors said, "If state boards prove recalcitrant or unable to act in the face of laws explicitly banning non-dentist whitening, state legislatures should formally legalize the teeth-whitening businesses. Illinois did this in 2009 when it enacted a law that allows such businesses to offer their services so long as they disclose to the public that they are not dentists."
Responding to the op-ed piece, Michigan Dental Association President Norm Palm, DDS, MS, urged the public to visit the dentist and ditch the mall when considering teeth whitening. "Safety and oral health?not selling patients on whitening procedures?are the primary concerns of the dentist. Seeking whitening services and other oral health procedures in a dental office allows the dentist to address another important aspect of safety: Overall oral health will be evaluated and recommendations will be made for necessary treatment. The patient will also be monitored throughout the whitening process and any side effects or problems can be identified and addressed," said Dr. Palm.
"Who knows the training and qualifications of the individuals in the local mall performing teeth whitening? Who knows if they are using appropriate materials and properly fitting mouth trays to protect the gums?" continued Dr. Palm.
Dr. Palm also shared his concern for public safety: "State dental boards must be allowed to safeguard the public from teeth-whitening entrepreneurs looking to make a fast buck."
Whether the public chooses the dentist or the entrepreneur, one thing is for certain: this issue is a hot topic in cosmetic dentistry.
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Monica Barudin is the Associate Managing Editor for Dental Product Shopper and Hygiene Product Shopper.