In April 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation related to teledentistry. This legislation included provisions to create a definition of digital scan and establish the auxiliary position of a digital scan technician. While there were several provisions that the AAO believed were in the best interest of patient health and safety, the AAO opposed the legislation unless amended to address concerns related to the taking of digital scans and digital scan technicians.

However, the bill did pass the legislature and was signed by Governor Northam. Provisions in the legislation mandated that the Virginia Board of Dentistry promulgate regulations for education and training for digital scan technicians to practice under the supervision of a dentist licensed in Virginia, who are not required to be registered with the Board.

The Board’s rulemaking process began with a 30-day comment period in March. During this stage, any members of the public were able to provide general thoughts about the rulemaking. The Board will then review these comments before drafted regulations. Members of the public will then have an opportunity to comment on specific draft regulations at that time.

All public comments, including the AAO’s, can be viewed here. The AAO asked that,

“As the Board works to fulfill its task to promulgate regulations that specify the responsibility of the dentist for the practice of teledentistry and training and supervision of a digital scan technician, the AAO respectfully asks that you consider language that ensures that an appliance, such as a clear aligner, that is fabricated as a result of a scan taken by a digital scan technician, is verified in-person by the treating dentist to prevent patients from receiving clear aligners that were fabricated based on inaccurate images.”

Additionally, the AAO believes dental and orthodontic treatment should not occur before a physical, in-person examination/evaluation of the patient and before the treating dentist has inspected and approved any orthodontic appliance created using images taken by a digital scan technician, has occurred by a Virginia licensed dentist. To that end, the AAO proposed inclusion of the following requirement in any dental scan technician regulations:

“No person, other than a dentist, shall obtain digital scans for use during the practice of dentistry unless the patient has or will be seen in person by a dentist within six months of the scan.”

The Board also offered a 30-day comment period regarding infection control training for dental assistant I.  You can view all public comments, including the AAO’s, here.

Remember, every orthodontist (as a citizen of and licensed dental provider in his or her state) and every patient has the right, independently and individually, to express his or her opinion on any dental issue to his or her state dental board.