Occupational Licensing

Dentists Against Teeth Whitening (When Done by Non-Dentists)

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Via Instapundit comes this tawdry case of licensing as protectionism:

Among the many cosmetic services Americans enjoy is teeth whitening. Do-it-yourself kits can be purchased for home use, but some people prefer having the whitening done by beauticians. Who do you suppose finds that unacceptable?

Smile and say, "dentists."

Not all dentists, of course, but the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners decided to act on behalf of those who do. Since 2003, the Board has been issuing cease and desist orders to beauty shops or any other business that offered teeth whitening services. The legal basis for such orders is that the "practice of dentistry" is restricted to licensed dentists and the Board decided that teeth whitening falls within that practice. Unless you're a licensed dentist, you must stop.

Complaints against the unlicensed teeth whiteners came, of course, entirely from dentists, not from customers who paid for the "unauthorized" services. That's the way it always goes with regulatory crackdowns on unlicensed competition in any field. The impetus for the anticompetitive action comes not from angry consumers who think they were not competently treated, but from practitioners unhappy that consumers took their business elsewhere.

Scholars at the Pacific Legal Foundation and Cato Institute have filed briefs in the case and hopefully free(er) markets will prevail.

Read the whole thing by George Leef at Forbes.