NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Dental Industry Insiders Thwart Competition from Teeth-Whitening Entrepreneurs

May 14, 2013

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. A new study from the Institute for Justice 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 the 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.

Source: Angela C. Erickson, "White Out: How Dental Industry Insiders Thwart Competition from Teeth-Whitening Entrepreneurs," Institute for Justice, April 2013.


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