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Teeth-whitening Legislation

By: Lauren Williamson
Posted: March 26, 2010, from the April 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

After seeing a display at a trade show, Kelly Markos thought teeth whitening would be a great addition to the services she offered at her Montgomery, Alabama, spa, d’Markos.

She spent approximately $8,000 on a system that promised quick, noticeable results and launched the new service in November 2007. It was $8,000 Markos now wishes she’d never spent.

Sixty days after she began offering teeth whitening as a treatment, state dental inspectors came to Markos’ spa demanding that she stop offering the service. “I would never, ever have imagined what I was doing was illegal,” she says—but in Alabama, it was.

Teeth whitening seems like a simple process. Apply the product, rinse it off, and your client leaves the spa thrilled with her bright, gleaming smile. It’s so basic that she could buy her own kit at the drug store. However, at the American Dental Association’s (ADA) urging, many states are starting to take a closer look at teeth whitening, and the potential harm of having a nondental professional, such as an esthetician, conduct the treatment.

Hawaii, Illinois and Missouri all announced legislation in 2009 that would regulate the types of professionals who may perform teeth-whitening procedures.