You might think it’s pretty obvious that cosmetic dentistry is dentistry, but not everyone wants to think so, especially when a quick buck is involved. Although dentists have been whitening teeth for many years, by cleaning them, using porcelain veneers, or, most recently, using chemical means, many entrepreneurs see teeth whitening as something that anyone should be able to do.

However, we as dentists strive to keep teeth whitening in our hands because we believe that the health and beauty of your teeth go hand in hand and we want to ensure that public health isn’t threatened by unqualified practitioners.

The FTC Said the NC Dental Board Was “Stifling Competition”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently punished the Dental Board of North Carolina because it was supposedly violating antitrust laws and stifling competition in the state by sending threatening letters to people who had, supported, or planned teeth whitening businesses.

The FTC’s complaint was partly procedural–the Board didn’t seem to act through proper channels in sending out the letters–it should have sought a court injunction.

Although the dental Board has sought relief, it has been denied.

This month, the American Dental Association (ADA) has filed a writ to try to help the NC Board get its case taken to the US Supreme Court.

How Safe Is Tooth Whitening in the Wrong Hands?

Because teeth whitening has few side effects when properly used, an Alabama lawsuit against their dental board alleges business interest, not safety is the main reason why dentists want to keep the practice to themselves. The complaint states that only about 5% of censures for non-dentists using tooth whitening were associated with actual patient harm.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) notes that problems with teeth whitening by non-dentists are twofold. First, non-dentists may misuse whitening compounds by getting them on soft tissue, which can cause harm, or overusing them when trying to whiten stains that are not receptive to chemical whitening. Second, people who go to non-dentists for teeth whitening may be the same patients who are not seeing dentists regularly, and may have undiagnosed decay, periodontal disease, and other oral health issues.

Prescription vs. Over-the-Counter Treatments

One issue that people bring up when they want non-dentists to be allowed to perform teeth whitening is that many of the same chemicals they are banned for using are available over-the-counter.

Their argument might be acceptable if they only planned to use the same formulae as the over-the-counter varieties, but teeth whitening parlors use stronger formulations that can be damaging and are susceptible to misuse. It is as if they were arguing that anyone who sells a poppy seed muffin should be allowed to prescribe a morphine drip. Stronger clinical treatments need to be handled by trained professionals.

If you are interested in teeth whitening and want to make sure that you get optimum results, please contact B&D Dentistry in Rockland County, NY for an appointment today.