North Carolina state dental board pushes for expanded recognition of specialty standing

CHICAGO - April 30, 2018 - PRLog -- The North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners (NCSBDE) will hold hearings on June 7, 2018, for proposed changes to rules regarding dental specialty standing. If approved, the changes would go into effect on September 1, 2018, and expand recognition of specialist standing beyond the traditional definitions of the American Dental Association (ADA). Specialty standing would be extended to definitions provided by the American Board of Dental Specialties (ABDS) and the Royal College of Dentists of Canada (RCDC).

The training program protocols and requirements for certification in the dental specialist fields of the ADA, ABDS, and the RCDC are similar. However, the current specialty listings under the ABDS are slightly more expansive.

The proposed rules also would impact dentist advertising practices, over which the state dental board has regulatory authority. In recent years, federal courts have sided with the position of First Amendment commercial free speech in dentists' advertising.

The proactive action by the NCSBDE is notable in that it was not the result of a federal court order or a protracted legal battle. Other state dental boards have limited recognition of dental specialties and restricted advertising of specialist standing to the specialist definitions of the ADA.

Comments from the dental industry
Attorney Frank R. Recker, DDS, JD

Attorney Frank R. Recker, DDS, JD, has provided legal counsel to groups such as the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists, American Academy of Oral Medicine, and American Academy of Orofacial Pain. Regarding the NCSBDE developments, Dr. Recker offered the following comments:

"I have litigated dental advertising and First Amendment issues for over 20 years, and this proposed regulation addresses all the concerns related to advertising as a dental 'specialist.'

"[The proposed NCSBDE rule change] recognizes that emerging new areas of dentistry will not, or could not, ever obtain postgraduate programs that would be 'CODA-accredited' [Commission on Dental Accreditation-accredited]. It also recognizes that limiting the advertising of dental credentials to those based upon some arbitrary formal educational requirements, such as 'one year formal postgraduate education,' has already been deemed unconstitutional in California by virtue of a 2010 federal court decision. It also recognizes the opinion of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on the 'specialty' issue in 2017.

"The North Carolina proposed regulation continues the traditional recognition of ADA-'recognized' specialties, but also recognizes the ABDS as a bona fide specialty recognition entity. Going beyond that, it allows another pathway for specialty recognition by providing criteria for anyone who wants to advertise a proposed specialty that is not recognized by the ADA or ABDS, but might have credentials that fulfill their objective requirements for alternative specialty recognition."

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By Michael Davis, DDS
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