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
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9/4/18  8:10 am
Commenter: Sheldon A. Bates, DMD

Strongly Oppose

While the intent of this regulation appears to relate to the recognition of Implantologists as specialists, the action suggested in this NOIRA could have some far-reaching unintended consequences. The request made at the 3/10/17 board meeting constituted a request for a narrow expansion of the specialist recognition. The proposed regulation change constitutes a sweeping modification and an extensive expansion of freedoms in advertising that could serve to blur the lines between general practitioners and specialists. This could open the public to be misled in the qualifications of practitioners providing services and could result in poor dentistry being performed. Obviously, this would not be protecting the population that we serve.

Rather than eliminating all specialty advertising restrictions, I would suggest that one solution could be an additive approach by attempting to have other specialties recognized when they meet the requirements and guidelines set forth by the ADA. Whether or not additional specialties should be recognized is beyond the scope of my comment, and I offer no opinion on the matter.

If there were no protocol in place for specific areas of dentistry to become recognized as additional specialties, the 3/10/17 petition would be a reasonable action. As it stands, the ADA presently maintains a protocol for an organization to pursue specialty recognition. Therefore, petitioning the board for recognition locally, appears to be an effort to circumvent the established systems. Although that approach appears to have been successful in Texas regulations, I believe their conclusion is flawed due to its circumvention of the current guidelines. Therefore, their action should not be considered precedent for changing our regulations.

I understand that the board has had extensive communication with attorneys from the American Board of Dental Specialties—the organization that represents four as-yet-unrecognized specialties by the ADA. Rather than expending energy and resources to change local acceptance, those energies would be better spent by the ABDS to pursue recognition on a national level for its constituent organizations.

By eliminating the specialty advertising restrictions, it would be reasonable predict that general practitioners could brand themselves as specialists in various areas of dentistry, thus implying that there is a greater degree of education and practice that does not exist. This, I believe, would be a significant unintended consequence of the proposed action. If poor dentistry is performed after these changes are made, the board could be opened to litigation for failure to appropriately protect the public.

In summary, striking the proposed language from the Virginia Code would serve to satisfy the petitioner’s request, but could have far-reaching detrimental consequences—the fullest extent of which we cannot foresee. There presently exists a protocol on the national level through the ADA for a specialty to be recognized. If those petitioning the board were to go through the proper channels to become an ADA-recognized specialty, the language already exists in the Virginia Code that would afford them the same rights as the currently-recognized nine specialties.

In light of these facts, I strongly oppose the proposed action in its present form.