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FTC issues final order in teeth whitening case

Washington—The North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners “sought to, and did, exclude nondentist providers from the market for teeth whitening services,” the Federal Trade Commission said in a unanimous ruling and final order issued Dec. 2. The board has 60 days to file a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals.

“As a result of the Board’s actions, many nondentists stopped providing teeth whitening services and several marketers of teeth whitening systems stopped selling their products and equipment in North Carolina,” the FTC said in upholding an administrative ruling. “In addition, several mall operators refused to lease space to, or cancelled existing leases with, nondentist teeth whitening providers.”

The FTC order, effective through Dec. 2, 2031, bars the board from:

  • directing a nondentist provider to cease providing teeth whitening goods or services;
  • prohibiting, restricting, impeding or discouraging provision of teeth whitening goods or services by a nondentist provider;
  • communicating to a nondentist provider that the provider is violating or has violated the Dental Practice Act by providing teeth whitening goods or services, or that providing such services would violate the Act;
  • communicating to a prospective nondentist provider that the provider would violate the Act by providing teeth whitening goods or services or that providing such services would violate the Act;
  • communicating to a commercial property lessor or other third party that the provision of teeth whitening goods or services by a nondentist provider is a violation or that any nondentist provider is violating the Act by providing such services;
  • communicating to an actual or prospective manufacturer, distributor or seller or any third party that providing such goods or services is a violation;
  • inducing, encouraging, assisting or attempting to induce anyone to engage in any action that would violate the above-listed restrictions.

Nothing in the order prohibits the board from investigating other non-dental providers for suspected violations of the Act, filing a court action against a nondentist for alleged violations or communicating the board’s “belief or opinion” whether a particular method of providing teeth whitening goods or services may violate the Act.