AAO Advocates That Only Those Graduating from Accredited, Post-doctoral Programs of Two or More Years Can Advertise As “Specialists”

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Dr. Robert Moss is pictured with his daughter,
Dr. Catharine Brannan
The AAO Component Legal Support Fund, established by the House of Delegates in 2015, is enabling the AAO to provide valuable assistance to Georgia members as they face proposed state rules changes to dental laws regarding False, Misleading or Deceptive Advertising.

Last September, the Georgia Board of Dentistry Rules Committee began considering a proposed update to Georgia’s specialty advertising regulation that would remove all language referring to those specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (including orthodontics), and instead use broadened language.  The AAO Legal Department heard about this change and submitted a formal response on behalf of Georgia’s orthodontists during the applicable comment period. The AAO’s advocacy efforts resulted in the specialty advertising change being tabled while the ADA House of Delegates was considering establishment of a new, separate specialty recognition body.

With input from the AAO and other specialties, the ADA HOD voted to establish the National Commission on Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards. Subsequently, however, the rule change regarding specialty advertising again became an item on the Georgia Board of Dentistry’s agenda.  AAO Associate General Counsel Sean Murphy became aware of this and alerted Dr. Robert Moss. As an orthodontist with practices in Albany and Americus, Georgia, Dr. Moss was able to attend the Board’s meeting earlier this month and discuss the proposed rule change.

“The only notice that we had that the rule change was going to be discussed again was the result of continued communication with the Board by Sean Murphy,” says Dr. Moss, who is the Georgia Association of Orthodontists delegate to the AAO House of Delegates.

“As a Georgia dental provider, I was able to attend the rules meeting,” Dr. Moss continues. “My daughter, Dr. Catharine Brannan, an orthodontic resident and student member of the AAO, accompanied me. I was invited to speak regarding the proposed change. My message was simple: The new language is very broad and could be open for unintended interpretation. The AAO recommends the language recently adopted by the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry,* which requires a dentist seeking specialty recognition to have successfully completed at least a two year, post-doctoral program accredited by an accreditation body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  Because the AAO had submitted this language to the Georgia Board, it was read into the record, and all present spoke very favorably of this approach.”

Dr. Moss believes that the next step will probably be another comment period with an open public discussion in the near future, during which Sean Murphy from the AAO and AAO orthodontists will be able to provide comment.

“The Component Legal Support Fund has made it possible for the AAO to not only be involved with Georgia’s rule change issue, but also to have one of our attorneys, Sean Murphy, attend many important state board of dentistry hearings all over the country,” says Dr. Moss. “Consideration of who or what is a specialist is now taking place in more than a dozen states and the AAO is there, advocating that specialty laws should not be diluted and educational requirements for specialists should not be lowered.”

You are, of course, entitled to exercise your own constitutional rights as a citizen of your state and contact or make comments to your government about any public health and safety matter.  Should you feel compelled to do so, you can individually and independently contact your respective state dental board (contact information for state dental boards is available on the AAO website under the “Legal and Advocacy” tab), elected officials, and/or attorneys general regarding your own thoughts about this or any important public health and safety matter.  In addition, if your state is considering actions of concern to orthodontists, please contact Sean Murphy at smurphy@aaortho.org to learn about the Component Legal Support Fund.

* In October 2017, the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry adopted language that reads in pertinent part: “The board finds that terms implying that a dentist is a specialist in some field of dentistry are terms of art indicating that the dentist has completed an accredited post-doctoral educational program in that field of at least two years. Therefore, a licensed dentist seeking specialty recognition must have successfully completed a post-doctoral program in a specialty area of dentistry consisting of at least two full-time years and which is accredited by an accreditation agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education.”
Mar. 22, 2018

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