Entrepreneurs Head to Court in Challenge to Alabama Teeth-Whitening Monopoly

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · September 3, 2014

Entrepreneurs Head to Court in Challenge to Alabama Teeth-Whitening Monopoly

A 2011 law makes it a crime for non-dentists to offer perfectly safe teeth-whitening services

Thursday, September 4, 2014, at 9:30 a.m.
Courtroom of the Hon. Elisabeth French
Jefferson County Courthouse, Room 610
716 Richard Arrington, Jr. Blvd. N.
Birmingham, Alabama 35203

Paul Sherman, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice
Arif Panju, Attorney, Institute for Justice

Tomorrow, at 9:30 a.m., a judge from the Circuit Court for the 10th Judicial Circuit in Birmingham, Ala., will hear summary judgment arguments that will decide if it is constitutional for dentists to maintain a lucrative monopoly on offering popular teeth-whitening services.

Represented by the Institute for Justice, teeth-whitening entrepreneurs Joyce Osborn Wilson and Keith Westphal filed a lawsuit last year challenging a 2011 Alabama law that makes it a crime for non-dentists to sell over-the-counter teeth-whitening products and provide a clean, comfortable place for customers to apply the products to their own teeth. Passed in response to pressure from licensed dentists, the law can subject entrepreneurs like Wilson and Westphal to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine for any violations.

Unwilling to risk thousands of dollars in fines and jail time, Wilson shut down her teeth-whitening business, and Westphal has been prevented from expanding his North Carolina-based business into Alabama.

Teeth-whitening products are regulated by the FDA as cosmetics, which means anyone—even a minor—can purchase them and apply them to their own teeth without a prescription and without supervision or instruction. Despite the safety of these products, at least 30 states have taken action to prohibit non-dentist from offering teeth whitening services.

For more information on this lawsuit, visit www.ij.org/teethwhitening. Founded in 1991, the Institute for Justice is the national law firm for liberty.