The last decade has ushered in exponential growth in many businesses and introduced the public to new approaches and opportunities that technology has made available. LegalZoom, for example, is a business that resonated profoundly with a public that was tired of being separated from opportunity simply because there were no affordable options. Today, it has found its way into the home of every businessperson wanting to branch out with a new idea. So also was the case with Tesla, Uber, and teeth whitening.
The phenomenon of creating new paths to opportunity is the anchoring standard of technology. However, in areas that are controlled by state licensing agencies, business evolution that benefits the consumer—rather than the participants—are never welcome. The pioneers who harness technology, operating on the fine line of technology and the state licensing in their area, drive forward with new innovative designs that create low cost, affordable options for consumers. This is the hallmark of a free market and spurs competition under most circumstances. However, such businesses often pay grievously for their vision.
In the case of Legalzoom, the state of North Carolina contended that allowing people access to self-help with regards to legal forms could only be construed as “the unauthorized practice of law.” North Carolina took a similar stance on teeth whitening, recently buckling under the power of The United States Supreme Court ruling that put an end to the teeth whitening debate for every state. The Supreme Court ruled that state licensing boards, comprised primarily of market participants, do not have automatic immunity from antitrust laws. This North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission dealt a setback to what has become an increasingly common form of attempts by state licensing boards to regulate trade that competes with their participants.
The birth of today’s teeth whitening serves as the best example to illustrate the path of consumer demand and the intersection of state licensing. As popularity for teeth whitening gained momentum in the 1990s, the cost for dental teeth whitening was prohibitive. Dentists charged upwards of $400.00 for teeth whitening, and the process itself was extreme. Sitting in a dental chair, under harsh lightening with a solution so strong it had to be monitored, its understandable how dentists may have viewed these measures as needing the skill of a licensed dentist to oversee the results.
What dentists failed to take into account was that not everyone needed, or even wanted, such extreme teeth whitening measures. Not content with the status quo, kiosks and individual businesses developed lower cost, less invasive alternatives to those found in the dental chair. The expanding market demanded options, and the dentists, in conjunction with the North Carolina Dental Board, worked to scrupulously destroy all options but the dentist. In a blatant attempt to put non-dental teeth whitening out of business, the North Carolina Dental Board illegally thwarted teeth whitening options, leading to higher prices in teeth whitening and reduced choices for consumers. In cease and desist orders that forced small businesses to close their doors and stop offering teeth whitening, the North Carolina Dental Board effectively worked to gain exclusive rights to teeth whitening for their local dentists.
In retrospect, some of the arguments can be viewed as ridiculous. An expert for The North Carolina Dental Board, Dr. Haywood referred to businesses that offer non-dental teeth whitening as “charlatans,” “quacks,” and “thieves,” comparing the process to “assisted suicide.” It’s quite clear that dentists wanted to believe that non-dental teeth whitening was inherently dangerous and required the care of a licensed dentist. Millions of people with whiter smiles and larger bank accounts have proved that false, setting such wildly unsupported positions as Dr. Haywood’s where they belong. Now non-dental teeth whitening is as common as dental floss, and no one is the worse for it. Far from being inherently dangerous to the public, Legalzoom, teeth whitening, Uber, Tesla, and now Press On Veneers emerge as pioneers on the side of a public that has had its patience exhausted by having their options challenged and limited by self-interested state licensing boards.
No matter what the future holds, technology is changing the options that are available and the benefits to the consumer will only increase. It’s worth noting that the rules are evolving where self-help and the rights of consumers’ are concerned because far too many people have limited time and resources to cave to the pressure of old-fashioned and outdated methods of doing business that boards are still trying to force down the throat of an savvy population that can just as easily find a legal answer, a ride to the airport, a hybrid vehicle, and a nice smile without the help of their friendly local licensing board and suffer no ill effects whatsoever.
Find out how Press On Veneers is working for you to create affordable new smile enhancements that can transform the appearance of your smile without a dentist visit. Before you pay thousands for Lumineers or a Snap On Smile, call and speak with Laurie Hall today about your removable veneer. On the cutting edge of technology, a beautiful, affordable smile is now your choice.