Suing to Brighten the Future for Teeth-Whitening Kiosks

Photograph by Bjorn Keller/Gallery Stock

Over the past decade, drug stores and dentists’ offices saw glowing profits selling and applying smile-brightening strips, toothpastes, and other brilliant innovations. Their success inspired a cottage industry offering competing services out of spas, salons, and mall kiosks. Dentists complained, and since 2005 at least 25 states have ordered teeth-whitening businesses to close, on the grounds that whitening services should be performed only by state-certified dentists and hygienists, according to Angela Erickson, a research analyst at the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm in Arlington, Va. “It’s what you call license creep,” she says.

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