Christina Collins found out about Georgia’s ban on non-dentist teeth whitening the hard way. A single mother, Christina launched Mobile Whites in February 2011 as a business that would allow her to earn an honest living and maintain a relatively flexible schedule. She set up a retail location in Savannah, Georgia that would give her customers the opportunity to learn how to apply a pre-packaged teeth-whitening product to their own teeth while in a comfortable and friendly environment. By charging as little as $59 for teeth whitening, the service was a bargain for Christina’s customers and she began to receive a steady stream of business. Christina’s success gave her confidence to begin advertising on websites like Groupon and Wedding Wire, leading to further word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers and even invitations to provide her services at parties and other locations.
Fast forward to August 2014. Christina received an e-mail and a phone call from an agent of the Georgia Dental Board accusing her of engaging in the unlawful practice of dentistry. Christina has never in her life had any encounter with the law beyond a traffic ticket. Frightened, she voluntarily closed her business and vacated her retail location in Savannah.
In Georgia, entrepreneurs who offer teeth-whitening services can be charged with a felony, imprisoned for up to five years and fined thousands of dollars. Their crime? Selling the exact same teeth-whitening product sold in stores.