US court sides with Connecticut over teeth-whitening firms
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Connecticut was justified in imposing certain regulations on teeth-whitening businesses, the latest turn in a four-year battle over the state's dental health rules.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said a number of reasons exist for rules governing teeth-whitening, particularly the practice of shining a light on teeth to activate peroxides.
The state Dental Commission heard expert testimony about potential health risks associated with the use of the lights, the court said.
Paul Sherman, a lawyer at the Institute for Justice, a Virginia law firm that represents Sensational Smiles, the business that challenged the regulation, said it is unconstitutional to require eight years of higher education "before they can point a flashlight at someone's teeth."
"Connecticut's policy had nothing to do with public health and safety and only serves to make life difficult for entrepreneurs who wanted to earn an honest living offering teeth-whitening services," he said.The office of Attorney General George Jepsen said lawyers are reviewing the decision, but are "gratified" that the court agreed with the state.
The Department of Public Health in 2011 asked Sensational Smiles to cease business or face legal action. The Dental Commission ruled only dentists may perform certain procedures.Sensational Smiles sued and a lower federal court ruled in favor of the state.
Taso Kariofyllis, co-owner of Sensational Smiles, said that his business offers a cosmetic service and that he is disgusted with Friday's ruling. His business operated in two shopping malls before the state ordered it to close."We should have an uninhibited way to provide services to customers in the same way other small businesses can provide cosmetic services," he said.
The Alabama Supreme Court upheld a lower court's ruling last month that teeth-whitening procedures may only be performed by licensed dentists. It said the service is considered the practice of dentistry and the Legislature included teeth bleaching and whitening as dental procedures.