Teeth-whitening is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that is available in North Carolina, as in most states, in several forms, including as an in-office dental treatment, as dentist-provided take-home kits, as over-the-counter products, and as services provided by non-dentists at salons, mall kiosks, and other locations. Each of these teeth-whitening services involves applying peroxide to the teeth by means of a gel or strip, which triggers a chemical reaction that results in whiter teeth. The services differ, however, in the immediacy of the results, the ease of use, the necessity of repeat applications, the need for technical support, and price. Not surprisingly, in-office dentist whitening procedures are fast, effective, and usually do not require repeated applications, but they are also the “most costly” offering. In contrast, over-the-counter whitening products typically contain lower concentrations of peroxide and may require multiple applications to achieve results, but they cost far less.
Beginning in the 1990s, dentists started providing whitening services throughout North Carolina. In about 2003, non-dentists also started offering teeth-whitening services, often at a significantly lower price than dentists. Shortly thereafter, dentists began complaining to the Board about the non-dentists’ provision of these services.