On March 1, 2021, the AAO sent a letter to the Executive Director and Board of Directors of the American Association of Dental Boards (AADB). The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) joined the AAO on this letter, which expresses concerns over the AADB’s decision to permit SmileDirectClub (SDC) to sponsor its mid-year meeting (Feb. 26-28, 2021). A copy of the letter can be viewed here. Subsequently, the AAO also provided a copy of the letter to all state dental board members of the AADB, in order to bring the situation to their attention as well.

According to its website, the AADB is a national association that “advocates uniform methods in the conduct, operation, and working of dental examining boards,” as well as promoting uniform standards for dental education. Members of the AADB include dental boards, specialty boards, associated individuals, and educators, as well as associations like the AAO, AAPD and AAOMS.

In particular, the dental specialty groups’ letter expressed concern over the potential conflicts of interest caused by allowing a for-profit corporation, and one that is currently suing three dental board members of the AADB, to serve as a “Diamond Sponsor” of the AADB mid-year meeting. The groups first pointed out that the AADB’s Directors and/or Executive Director appear to have acted outside of their authority in creating a new corporate sponsorship category. The AADB’s bylaws require a vote of the general assembly to add or change sponsorship categories, which did not occur in this case.

The three dental specialty groups also raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest created by SDC’s sponsorship of the meeting. As a general concern, allowing for-profit corporations to sponsor the meetings of a group of government regulators could create conflicts of interest, because the interests of those for-profit corporations may directly contradict those of the state dental boards. The letter points out that this is demonstrated by SDC’s sponsorship of the meeting – putting dental boards that are currently being sued by SDC in the position of attending their association’s meeting whose primary sponsor is the company currently suing them.

The AAO will continue to monitor this situation. AAO members also have the right to express their concerns over this matter to their state dental board. You can find contact information for your state dental board using the AAO’s state dental board directory.