Court rules Ga. teeth-whitening suit can proceed

By DrBicuspid Staff

June 16, 2016 -- A lawsuit challenging the Georgia Board of Dentistry's rule prohibiting nondentists from doing teeth whitening will proceed.

The District Court for the Northern District of Georgia refused on June 6 to dismiss a 2014 suit filed by a teeth-whitening entrepreneur, arguing that Georgia’s policy violates federal antitrust law.

The claim is similar to a 2015 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners lacks the authority to regulate nondentist teeth-whitening services, finding that the board is anticompetitive because it is mostly composed of dentists.

In recent years, teeth whitening has grown into an $11 billion industry, encompassing products such as gum and toothpaste, as well as services offered by dentists, salons, spas, and mall kiosks.

In March 2016, a Connecticut law restricting nondentists from shining light-emitting diode (LED) teeth-whitening lights on customers' teeth survived a challenge after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case.

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Last Updated dd 6/20/2016 10:10:54 AM

1 comment so far ...
6/18/2016 3:52:27 AM
Suzanne7254
The GA whitening case was brought about because an entrepreneur had the gall to sell “over-the-counter” whitening products and provided a clean, comfortable place for customers to apply the product to their own teeth.
In 2014 the Georgia Board of Dentistry told her to shut her business down or be charged with a felony for “practicing dentistry without a license”. The felony charges carried a possibility of imprisonment for up to five years and thousands of dollars in fines. 
Earlier this legislative session, Georgia HB 952 was passed and becomes law in July.  The bill was brought before the legislature in reference to the Supreme Court of the United States establishing a new standard for determining whether state professional licensing boards and board members are entitled to immunity for federal antitrust violations.

Pursuant to N.C. State Board of Dental Examiners, state professional licensing boards and board members are entitled to antitrust immunity only if: 
          14 (A) Their anticompetitive conduct is consistent with "clearly articulated" state policy.  

Georgia HB 952 section 17 (2) states: “It is the policy of the State of Georgia to increase economic opportunities for all of its citizens by promoting competition and thereby encouraging innovation and job growth. It is therefore also the policy of the State of Georgia to displace competition only when necessary to protect consumers from present, significant, and substantiated harms that threaten public health and safety.” 
 
It will be interesting to see the defense rationale the BOD uses to support claims of practicing dentistry without a license for selling over the counter whitening products to consumers and providing a place to put the product on.