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Alabama balks at Supreme Court’s teeth-whitening decision

On June 5th, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that only licensed dentists are allowed to provide teeth-whitening services, citing health and safety concerns.

The state’s bold decision to only allow licensed dentists to conduct teeth-whitening services is in contrast with the federal Supreme Court’s landmark February ruling, which held that a North Carolina dental board erred in issuing cease and desist orders to teeth-whitening establishments run by non-dentists.

The two plaintiffs of the case, non-dentists Keith Westphal and Joyce Osborn Wilson, argued that the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners was operating unconstitutionally in disallowing non-dentists from performing teeth-whitening services in places like malls and salons, which the February high court ruling said was OK in North Carolina.

But the Alabama Supreme Court, citing public health and safety, stated that only dentists should be allowed to perform such services, ruling in favor of the dental board.

“Teeth whitening is a form of dental treatment that requires the application of a chemical bleaching agent directly to the customer’s teeth. The evidence in the record indicates that the procedure is relatively safe but that it is not without potential adverse effects,” the court wrote.

Read the ruling here.