Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo recently signed into law AB147, Nevada’s “modernization of dentistry” bill. AAO landmark teledentistry language was included, thanks to grassroots engagement and policy influence by the AAO Advocacy team, AAO members and the Nevada State Orthodontic Society (NSOS). 

This legislative success in Nevada will be shared with lawmakers in other states as a leading example for protecting patient health and safety when using teledentistry.

Nevada is the First State to Require In-Person Exam Prior to Orthodontic Treatment
This law makes Nevada the first state in the nation to require “…an in-person visit before the patient begins using the orthodontic appliance.” The new law also contains other preferred parameters, such as requiring that a patient have a provider telephone number and other contact information for the doctor supervising their treatment.

 “The value AAO brings to our specialty through advocacy action is immeasurable,” said Dr. Frank Beglin, a Nevada State Orthodontic Society member and past AAO Council on Government Advocacy (COGA) chair. “Without the leadership and action by the AAO Advocacy team working with NSOS, this legislation would have significantly benefited mail-order orthodontic companies as it was originally introduced. Instead, AAO and NSOS worked together to play offense and successfully included the in-person visit requirement and other patient health and safety protections. I am grateful to the AAO advocacy team and our in-state counsel, Sasha Sutcliffe-Stephenson, secured through the AAO’s Component Legal Support Fund. Their work combined with NSOS grassroots engagement made all the difference for success.”

In the summer of 2022, Dr. Beglin made the AAO aware that the Nevada Dental Association (NDA) was pushing for legislation that would include teledentistry language. The AAO Advocacy team immediately connected with NDA to share our teledentistry parameters and encourage working together on model language for patient health and safety.

As the 2023 legislative session began in Nevada, the AAO learned that the Nevada Dental Association was intending to move a bill that would not have provided AAO-supported patient protections for teledentistry. As a result, Sasha Sutcliffe-Stephenson joined the AAO/NSOS team as in-state counsel.  Ms. Stephenson, the AAO Advocacy team, and NSOS were able to work together quickly through AAO/NSOS grassroots engagement to successfully advocate for necessary amendments to AB147 by updating patient health and safety requirements, including the in-person visit. 

The Nevada Dental Association ultimately supported these changes with leadership from NDA Council on Government Affairs Chair Dr. Rick Dragon.

“The AAO Advocacy team was always very responsive and whenever we needed anything, we got it quickly,” Dr. Beglin added. “Their professionalism, strategic approach to proactive advocacy, and national perspective on policy is a recipe for success.”

Dr. Frank Beglin and the AAO/NSOS in-state counsel Sasha Sutcliffe-Stephenson on a June weekend advocating to the Nevada Legislature for patient health and safety protections relating to mail-order orthodontic concerns.

Dr. Frank Beglin and the AAO/NSOS in-state counsel Sasha Sutcliffe-Stephenson on a June weekend advocating to the Nevada Legislature for patient health and safety protections relating to mail-order orthodontic concerns.

Mail-Order Orthodontic Industry Representatives Resist AAO Amendments
The bill with the AAO/NSOS amendments was met with strong opposition by mail-order orthodontic industry representatives – including SmileDirectClub – and the seven lobbyists they hired in Nevada. Despite heavy opposition, AB147 with amendments passed unanimously in the Nevada Assembly (House) and then passed by a 13 to 8 vote in the Senate.

There was also a concern the governor might veto the bill, but continued AAO/NSOS grassroots and advocacy engagement coordinated through the AAO Advocacy team helped ensure AB147 was signed into law. With the Governor’s signature, AB147 became effective immediately for the purposes of adopting regulation, and January 1, 2024, for all practical purposes.  AAO/NSOS will continue to engage in the implementation of AB147 as associated rules are made through the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners.

Special grassroots engagement thanks goes to AAO/NSOS members Dr. Frank Beglin, Dr. Mark Handelin, and Dr. John Griffiths for their leadership and dedication to advocacy.  Their voices and clinical expertise combined with the NSOS members taking grassroots action to advocate for an AAO/NSOS-supported teledentistry bill made all the difference. We are also grateful to Assemblywoman Elaine Marzola for being a champion for consumer protection and access to quality healthcare. Thanks to Governor Lombardo for signing this bill into law that will help keep patients safe.