The Federal Trade Commission â€œerred completelyâ€ when it recently ruled against the North Carolina Dental Boardâ€™s actions last year regarding teeth whitening, says John Bitting. DOCS Educationâ€™s regulatory counsel adds that the states have traditionally been accorded the right to regulate professions such as dentistry. â€œWhitening is clearly dentistry as it involves manipulating teeth and altering them,â€ Bitting adds, expressing the views of many, including other dental boards. â€œYou have to ask what other procedures, traditionally defined and reserved for the professions, are now vulnerable to the FTC or other quasi-judicial bodies.â€ The FTC first took action against North Carolina in June 2010 when it alleged that their whitening ban violated federal antitrust laws. The board responded with its own salvo in February 2011, claiming the FTC abused its power, and asking for a dismissal. The FTC quickly denied the request. Its July 19 ruling called the boardâ€™s ban â€œan unreasonable restraint of trade and unfair method of competition.â€ Not everyone agrees that the practice of whitening should be reserved for dentists. Others argue that this restriction makes little sense when consumers can easily procure products that accomplish similar results from drugstores. Services offering teeth whitening now proliferate in mall kiosks, tanning salons and other spots throughout the world, often drawing fire from dental boards. Connecticut and Tennessee are among the states that have banned whitening by non-dentists. â€œThe controversy regarding immigrant drivers licenses and federal ID cards shows the level of controversy this area can generate,â€ Bitting says. â€œIt may also be a glimpse into the future.â€
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