Friday, March 25, 2011

Connecticut Dental Board Reviewing Whether Teeth Whitening Should Be Classified as "Dentistry"

The Connecticut Dental Board is about to run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission - just like the North Carolina Dental Board.

State dentists could get a monopoly on the lucrative business of tooth whitening pending action by a commission they control.

The State
Dental Commission held a hearing in December to review whether tooth
whitening should be classified as ‘’dentistry’’ – a move that would
result in the procedure being done only under a dentist’s supervision. 
  The commission is set to vote on the issue at its May 11 meeting.  If
the panel rules that it is dentistry – others who provide the service
in shopping malls, salons and spas could be put out of business.

“I’m running a business in the state helping the economy,” said
Stephen Barraco, owner of Smile Bright, a Branford company employing
five people that sells whitening products in salons.

Three of the six dentists on the state commission advertise that they
offer tooth whitening in their practices, including the commission
chair, Jeanne P. Strathearn, a West Hartford dentist.  She declined
through her staff to talk with C-HIT for the story. The commission also
has three slots for non-dentist “public members.”  But two of those
seats are vacant.

The commission’s ruling would not affect the over-the-counter sale of
whitening products.  Commissioners’ questions were focused on vendors
offering the service outside the dental offices.

Department of Public Health spokesman William Gerrish said that the
commission had received complaints that tooth whitening was being done
without a dentist’s supervision.  But he could not specify the nature of
those complaints or whether consumers had been harmed.

The move could bring legal problems for the state. North Carolina
recently prohibited non-dentists from performing whitening and is being
sued by the Federal Trade Commission as a result. The FTC maintains that
North Carolina’s dental board violated anti-trust laws by limiting
competition for whitening customers. As in North Carolina, the state
body overseeing dentistry in Connecticut is predominately made up of
dentists, a key point in the FTC’s complaint.

Mitchell J. Katz of the FTC’s Office of Public Affairs refused to
speculate on whether similar action would be taken against Connecticut
if the commission rules that whitening is dentistry.

Regardless of whether the FTC acts, Barraco said that he and others
in the industry would take legal action if the commission passes a
measure that forces them out of business. He maintains he is selling a
product, just as pharmacies that stock whitening strips do.
Just as I said many weeks ago, this issue is destined to be decided in a Federal Appellate Court or even at SCOTUS - eventually. At issue is more than teeth whitening but the constitutional issue of state sovereignty.

I imagine there will be more states regulating teeth whitening and why?

Complaints of harm from the public.


Federal Trade Commission Denies North Carolina Dental Board's Motion to Dismiss Complaint

Updated: North Carolina Dental Board Files Suit Against the Federal Trade Commission

North Carolina Dental Board files Suit Against the Federal Trade Commission

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