Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Dentistry
Regulations Governing the Practice of Dentistry [18 VAC 60 ‑ 21]
Action Amendment to restriction on advertising dental specialties
Comment Period Ends 9/5/2018
Next Comment     Back to List of Comments
8/6/18  11:41 am
Commenter: Douglas H. Mahn, DDS

Opposing Removal of Restrictions on Dental Specialty Advertising in Virginia

Date:    August 06, 2018


To:       Virginia Department of Health Professions

Re:       Opposing Removal of Restrictions on Dental Specialty Advertising in Virginia

Dear Board Members,  

            I was recently informed that the Virginia Board of Dentistry proposed removing restrictions on specialty advertising.  I was informed that this proposal was in response to lobbying from dental groups that are not affiliated with the American Dental Association (ADA).  Removing restrictions on dental specialty advertising places the public health at risk.  Let me briefly explain why.

            There are currently 9 ADA recognized specialties.  To achieve recognition as a ADA recognized specialist, dentists must complete years of training under strict guidelines of their parent specialty organization.  This  includes intensive specialty literature review, supervision of the treatment aspects of their specialty and examinations.  It has been my experience that the general public is not well informed about some of the dental specialties and the intensive training they receive.

            An example of this  problem  is seen with the dramatic rise in the number of dentists placing dental implants with limited training.  This limited training would allow them, however, to advertise as having specialty training if restrictions to advertising were removed.  Removing restrictions, therefore, would place patients at increased risk for an invasive surgical procedures that could have irreversible consequences.   A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association in 2014, Outcomes of implants and restorations placed in general dental practices, concluded that "implant success rates in general practices may be lower than those reported in studies conducted in academic or specialist settings".  It would seem prudent to make sure that the public  is not confused by advertising that appears to place the limited training of some dentists on the same level as an ADA recognized specialty program.

            As a peridontist, I can tell you that the American Academy of Periodontology is very concerned about the considerable rise in cases of implant disease and other complications  in the past few years.  I have found many of the implant problems  that I see are due to poor management of the implant site by dentists with limited training and were avoidable.

            The problem of dentists advertising as having specialty training without having attended an ADA recognized specialty program affects all of the dental specialties and the public health.  In the best interests of the public, I strongly urge you to oppose removing restrictions on specialty advertising.  Failure to do so, will lead to unnecessary harm to our patients.


Douglas H. Mahn, D.D.S.

Periodontist, Manassas, VA