Lawsuit challenges Alabama law prohibiting non-dentists from bleaching teeth

Plaintiffs say the law is an attempt to stifle competition, not protect public safety

Looking to whiten your smile? Well, in Alabama not all teeth-bleachers are created equal. The state has a law that considers anyone offering to bleach teeth a dentist, and practicing dentistry without a license is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year of hard labor.

Two business owners are fighting back against this law, suing the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners for the right to offer teeth bleaching treatments. They argue that the law is not intended to protect safety, as the board claims, but instead to stifle dentists’ competition.

“We must fulfill our directive to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public,” Susan Wilhelm, executive director of the dental board, told the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing the plaintiffs, more than a dozen other states have similar laws prohibiting anyone but a licensed dentist, hygienist or dental assistant from offering teeth-whitening procedures. The institute is currently representing a client in a similar case in Connecticut.

 

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