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Teeth whiteners lose right to practise in federal court

27 July 2015

Teeth whiteners lose right to practise in federal court

The GDC manages to successfully prosecute illegal tooth whiteners quite regularly in the UK, and now a federal court in the US has upheld a law restricting non-dental practitioners from shining light emitting diode (LED) teeth-whitening light on their customers’ teeth, according to Dr Bicuspid.

Following an appeal from the owners of teeth whitening groups such as Sensational Smiles and Connecticut White Smile, which saw them sue the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the surprising aspect of the judge’s decision was his emphasis on the economic side of the argument in favour of keeping tooth whitening the sole preserve of dental professionals.

Despite the expert testimony which cited the oral health problems that may arise from treatment administered by untrained individuals, such as pulpal irritation, tooth sensitivity and lip burns, the judges focused on the economic interests of the state being a key factor in their decision. They wrote: “Much of what states do is to favour certain groups over others on economic grounds. We call this politics. Whether the results are wise of terrible is not for us to say, but favouritism of this sort is certainly rational in the constitutional sense."

Responding to the decision, Paul Sherman, who was representing Sensational Smiles, said: “Today’s ruling disregards what should be obvious to anyone: It is unconstitutional to require someone to have eight years of higher education before they can point a flashlight at someone’s teeth. Connecticut’s policy had nothing to do with public health and safety and only serves to make life difficult for entrepreneurs who wanted to earn an honest living offering teeth-whitening services.”

That lawyer indicated the case may now be taken as far as the Supreme Court, while it is reported another 30 states are fighting similar teeth-whitening regulation battles at present.

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