The State Dental Commission held a hearing in December to review whether teeth whitening should be classified as “dentistry” — a move that would result in the procedure being done only under a dentist’s supervision. The commission is set to vote on the issue at its May 11 meeting. If the panel rules that it is dentistry, others who provide the service in shopping malls, salons and spas could be put out of business.
“I’m running a business in the state helping the economy,” said Stephen Barraco, owner of Smile Bright, a Branford company employing five people that sells whitening products in salons.
Three of the six dentists on the state commission advertise that they offer teeth whitening in their practices, including the commission chair, Jeanne P. Strathearn, a West Hartford dentist. She declined through her staff to talk with C-HIT for this story. The commission also has three slots for non-dentist “public members.” But two of those seats are vacant.
Here in the District of Columbia five of the seven members of the relevant commission must be dentists, and one of the seven must be a dental hygenist. And to be clear, this isn’t a case where you’re hiring technical experts for a full-time regulatory position. The idea is that you’re a dentist who makes a living selling dental health services, but who also gets to use his or her authority as a regulator to shelter your business from competition. At the federal level, the revolving door at least revolves.