The United States Supreme Court ruled today, by a 6-3 vote, that the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners (NCBDE) does not have the authority to regulate teeth whitening, and that it unreasonably restrained trade in violation of anti-trust law. The case arose from a complaint issued by the FTC back in 2010, alleging that the NCBDE is overstepping its bounds and limiting competition by prohibiting kiosks in shopping venues from offering teeth-whitening products at lower prices without supervision from a licensed dentist. The complaint further alleged the Board’s self-serving financial interest and inability to provide objectivity because the Board consists mostly of dentists.
The assenting justices sided with the Federal Trade Commission that the state’s oversight of dentistry is anticompetitive and poses a conflict of interest to the objective regulation of dentistry. Some of the justices expressed concerns that this will have an impact on state board oversight of other professions.
Many stakeholders expect this precedential case to have serious consequences for how states regulate their professions and how the federal government levies its control.