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State Dental Board Bans Teeth Whitening at Mall Kiosks

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  • NC5 Investigates: Consumer Alert

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If you want whiter teeth, you're now going to have to see your dentist.

Going to the mall and having your teeth whitened there is no longer an option.

A NewsChannel 5 undercover investigation recently exposed some of the problems with these teeth whitening kiosks at shopping malls.

And now the state Dental Board has effectively put them out of business.

Consumer investigator Jennifer Kraus tells us how...and why.

The people behind the kiosks insist that having your teeth whitened at a shopping mall is just like buying Crest Whitestrips at a drug store.

Joyce Osborn says, "There's no difference."

Osborn is the president of the Council for Cosmetic Teeth Whitening which is a trade group that represents the manufacturers of the products that are sold at these kiosks.

At the Tennessee Board of Dentistry's meeting Thursday afternoon, she tried to convince board members that teeth whitening is a safe and a affordable alternative to having it done in a dentist's office.

Osborn told the Board, "The consumer has a right to whiten their teeth any way they want to."

But the Dental Board says people who have no dental training should not be doing dental work.

Dr. John Douglass, a member of the Board, told Osborn, "In my mind, what goes on at these kiosks is the practice of dentistry."

Douglass even cited NewsChannel 5's recent undercover investigation and how we found that kiosk workers tell customers they use the same whitening gels that dentists use.

Douglass said, "If this is the case and, I assume that it is, you're doing a dental procedure."

The trade group insists that employees never touch customers' mouth.

But when we visited these businesses undercover, we saw kiosk workers doing just that. Sometimes with gloves on, sometimes without.

The Dental Board also expressed concerns about the kiosk workers diagnosing and prescribing treatment.

Dr. Michael Tabor described how the employees evaluate customers before the process begins.

"What they're doing is they're taking a shade tab and they're holding it up to the patient and showing them what shade they are right now and then they're showing them what shade they think they can become, " Tabor told the rest of the Board.

A handful of other states already have taken steps to ban these operations.

Thursday, by unanimous vote, Tennessee joined them. The new policy effectively puts the kiosks out of business because now teeth whitening can only be done by a licensed dental professional.

Dr. Tabor told Kraus after the meeting, "We want to make sure that everyone who might whiten your teeth anywhere, whether it's a dental office or a gymnasium or a mall, we are going to make sure that these people are credentialed people so we know they're going to do it properly."

Tabor says the Dental Board is just trying to protect consumers and their teeth.

Due to the ruling, the kiosk at the Cool Springs Galleria did not open today.

However the one at the Opry Mills Mall DID open. A spokesman for the owner tells NewsChannel 5 they don't believe the Dental Board has the authority to tell them whether they can be in business. And they plan to sue the state.

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