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How Dental Industry Insiders Thwart Competition from Teeth-whitening Entrepreneurs

By Angela C. Erickson
April 2013

Click to see the full scale map of teeth-whitening regulations and enforcement

As the teeth-whitening industry has exploded in recent years, so too has the push for laws and regulations that enable licensed dentists and hygienists to capture a greater share of that market by banning anyone else from offering teeth-whitening services. This study investigates this expansion of dental licensing as a form of economic protectionism, where industry insiders agitate for laws that limit competition.

At least 30 states have attempted to shut down teeth-whitening businesses, and far more often than not, dental-industry interests, not consumers, drove these actions.

Yet scholarly research and consumer complaint data reviewed for this report show that teeth whitening is safe wherever it is done. Entrepreneurs in spas, salons and kiosks simply provide the same over-the-counter products consumers can buy on their own and apply at home, and the Food and Drug Administration regulates those products as cosmetics.

Outlawing teeth-whitening entrepreneurs serves only to raise prices for consumers and protect dentists from honest competition. Legislators and dental boards should resist protectionist calls to expand dental licensing and instead legalize teeth whitening to allow new businesses to flourish.


Press Releases

Related IJ Cases

Release: Entrepreneurs Fight Back Against Teeth-Whitening Monopolies (April 30, 2013) 

Connecticut Teeth Whitening- Sensational Smiles LLC v. Mullen

Alabama Teeth Whitening- Westphal v. Northcutt 

Related Videos

Other Research and News Articles
F.L.O.S.S: Protecting You From Low-cost Teeth-whitening Services Editorials: Des Moines Register’s Pulitzer Finalist series on licensing
Report: License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing 

Report: Designing Cartels: How Industry Insiders Cut Out Competition

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