Dentists accuse Atlanta-based teeth whitening company of “potentially harming” customers

March 22, 2009 News, Cosmetic Dentistry, News

WhiteSmileUSA, which offers kiosk teeth whitening in malls, salons and stores in over 20 states, has come under fire from dentists for practising dentistry without a licence.  

Various state boards of dentistry have served WhiteSmileUSA and competitors with voluntary cease-and-desist letters. Concerns about sterilization and the lack of training on the part of kiosk staff prompted Georgia’s state board to issue several such orders. Similarly, dentists claim that discolouration as a result of abscesses or other oral health issues will not be caught by kiosk staff.  

Individual salon owners are also engaged in legal battles with state dentistry boards over their ability to offer what they see as a cosmetic service and thereby expand their businesses.  

WhiteSmileUSA co-founder Jim Valentine claims that dentists are trying to protect their own interests, as kiosk whitening uses the same basic ingredient as dentists do (hydrogen peroxide), but for half the price. WhiteSmile staff members also do not offer dental advice or indeed touch their customers: the customer handles his own peroxide-gel-filled mould.  

Over 75,000 customers have been served at WhiteSmile kiosks since 2007, and company’s annual revenues are around the $15m mark. But an Alabama court recently ruled that commercial whitening services fall under the remit of the practise of dentistry, and a Tennessee court followed suit in January.  

WhiteSmileUSA has said it will appeal the decision, accusing dental boards of trying to retain their monopoly.