Battle over who can whiten your teeth

Reported by: Jaie Avila
Published: 1/17 8:49

SAN ANTONIO - Getting your teeth whitened has become a very popular procedure. But there''s a battle right now over who should be allowed to perform that service, and it has to do with your safety.

Sandra Longoria got her teeth whitened at her dentist''s office.

"I think everybody wants a brighter, whiter smile. You see it in magazines and TV and celebrities -- and you just want that Hollywood white look," Longoria told News 4 WOAI.

Sandra might have paid less for teeth whitening at a mall or clinic that doesn''''t have a dentist on-site. But her dentist told her that wouldn''t be a good idea because the bleaching chemicals, while safe, can cause irritation if not applied properly.

"Also, we feel that a comprehensive exam should come before whitening - to determine if there are any issues like decay, periodontal disease or root exposure. If you have some of those things, and you do whitening, you can have some complications like pain, sensitivity and burning," explains dentist Joshua Austin.

The Texas Dental Association wants the legislature to change the law, so that only licensed dentists can perform teeth whitening. Right now, whitening is kind of gray area, since the state dental board doesn''t police the activity.

The dentists may be in for a battle. When North Carolina tried to keep businesses from doing teeth whitening without a dentist, the Federal Trade Commission stepped in and accused the state''s dental board of conspiring to limit competition.

No matter what the outcome here in Texas, it won''t prevent you from whitening your own teeth with a product designed to use at home.

We contacted a company called Beaming White, which supplies and trains those teeth whitening businesses you see in our local shopping malls. Beaming White says dentists are trying to protect a monopoly they used to have when it came to teeth whitening. The company says if dentists are allowed to change the law, it would only kill competition and drive prices up for consumers.