Monday, May 27, 2013

A Clash Over Who Is Allowed to Give You a Brighter Smile

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — In the middle of the enduring conflict between liberty and public welfare stands Joyce Osborn Wilson and her teeth-whitening business.  

Joyce Osborn Wilson displaying her teeth-whitening kit at her office in Guntersville, Ala. The state dental board wants her to stop selling it, saying she is practicing dentistry without a license. Ms. Wilson has filed a lawsuit in state court to be allowed to continue her business. 

After 26 years of running The Hairport, Ms. Wilson, who now lives in this pretty lakeside town in northern Alabama, invented a whitening system called BriteWhite and began selling it to other salons and spas. It was all smiles for a year or so. 

Then in 2006, she received a letter from a lawyer representing the state dental board. She was practicing dentistry without a license, the letter read, and must immediately “cease and desist” selling her products in Alabama.

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