What does your state dental board do?

I was privileged to speak at this past year’s ADA Annual Session in Orlando. The ADA puts on a tremendous program every single year ...

Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD

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I was privileged to speak at this past year’s ADA Annual Session in Orlando. The ADA puts on a tremendous program every single year with nearly 250 outstanding educational opportunities. Congratulations to the ADA for putting on such a great session. Make plans today to attend this year’s Annual Session in Las Vegas!

Every year around the time of the ADA Annual Session, a number of dental organizations also have their annual meetings that tie in with what the ADA is doing. I had the privilege of attending the American Association of Dental Boards (AADB) meeting.

I have had the honor of working with a number of state dental boards in writing their educational requirements for facial esthetic procedures, such as Botox and dermal fillers, and have consulted with a number of them for the past two and a half years in this and a number of other areas in dentistry.

The survey that we did on our Web site revealed some interesting findings about dentists and their relationships with state dental boards. It’s incredible that many dentists have no clue what the difference is between their state dental associations and state dental boards. Your state dental association represents and advocates for dentists in your state. In other words, your state dental association works for you.

In our survey, 52% of dentists thought that the state dental board protects the interests of the dentists, 32% thought that the state dental board protects the interests of the dentists and the public, and just 16% of dentists actually got it right by knowing that the state dental board protects the public.

The state dental board is a government agency. State dental board members are most often political appointments. Its job is to interpret and enforce the state dental practice acts, which are written by the state legislature.

Most state dental boards do not have the power to change what is written in the state dental practice act without the state legislature passing an amendment. The state dental board may interpret the state dental practice act as new things enter into dentistry, but they can only interpret this within the words written in the dental practice act.

Now as I speak around the country and talk to dentists, most tell me the exact same thing – "My state dental board is very conservative and never lets us do anything." Many dentists think that their state dental board is just out to "get them," with no fair hearing or trial if something amiss happens in their practice.

But here is what I was most impressed with at the AADB meeting – most state dental board members are incredibly devoted dental professionals who try their best to work with dentists and be fair to everyone. Unfortunately, state dental boards have to deal with the worst possible scenarios when patients complain to them about possible infractions. The state dental board members are your peers, and they really try to do their best in unpleasant situations.

I have seen many cases where dentists have been given the benefit of the doubt and the state dental board has worked with them to turn things around. Most of the attendees at the AADB paid their own way and were not reimbursed by their states, and they did so because of their dedication.

They take their jobs very seriously in the best interest of dentistry. They need to grapple with new things that come into dentistry, such as sleep apnea, laser therapy, Botox and dermal fillers, and much more. More often than not, they try to propel dentistry forward.

If you are interested in helping to change dentistry, then try to understand the role of your state dental board and how it works. People ask me all the time how we can change dentistry. I tell them to get much more involved in their state dental association, which advocates for dentistry to the state legislature. They can then go in and change the rules and expand your state’s dental practice act to meet the many new opportunities that we have in dentistry today.

Dr. Louis Malcmacher is a practicing general dentist and internationally known lecturer, author, and dental consultant known for his comprehensive and entertaining style. An evaluator for CLINICIANS REPORT, Dr. Malcmacher is the president of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics at facialesthetics.org. Contact him at (440) 892-1810 or e-mail dryowza@mail.com. His Web site is www.commonsensedentistry.com, where you can sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter.

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