Teledentistry and the AAO

The topic of teledentistry is being discussed more and more, and the AAO has been a crucial stakeholder on this issue and will continue to advocate and participate in the discussions. When it comes to teledentistry, the AAO supports increased access to dental care provided it is in the best interest of patients’ health and safety and complies with other laws. With that in mind, the AAO’s Legal and Advocacy Department worked with the AAO Board of Trustees to approve the following Teledentistry Parameters. These current parameters are central to what the AAO believes should be considered to protect patients’ health and safety, as teledentistry laws are being created.

1. In-Person Examination/Evaluation

The AAO believes there are certain diagnoses and evaluations that can only be performed in-person or are best performed in-person (x-rays, etc.). There are several categories of problems or conditions that many dentists typically look for as part of a physical examination at the outset of traditional in-person treatment. This can include potentially serious conditions, such as oral cancer, periodontal problems, advanced decay, gum disease, etc. With this in mind, and although it might make sense to perform an initial consult via teledentistry, the AAO believes teledentistry TREATMENT should not occur before a physical, in-person examination/evaluation of the patient has occurred by a state-licensed dentist.

2. Initial Consultation

Initial consultations for the purpose of making a preliminary diagnosis and treatment recommendation may be conducted by means of teledentistry by a state licensed dentist. However, the creation of a final treatment plan and/or the initiation of dental treatment should not occur until after the state-licensed dentist has performed an in-person examination of the patient.

3. Teledentistry during Active Treatment

During active treatment, progress evaluations should be conducted by a state-licensed dentist on a regular basis.  To the extent that a patient requests to see in-person the state-licensed dentist providing teledentistry services for any reason (follow-up care, emergency, etc.), the AAO believes that the dentist should provide the opportunity to see the patient in person. at the location of the original physical in person consultation.

4. Doctor Information

Regardless of modality, the AAO believes patients should always be aware of their treating dentists’ (or potential dentists’) information, including where the dentist treating him or her is located, or otherwise how to reach his or her dentist if needed. Furthermore, the AAO believes teledentistry laws should require those dentists who are performing teledentistry services to disclose (via public website, etc.) their name, license number, telephone number, practice address, and education credentials to patients or the public who may be using or interested in their teledentistry services.

5. Other Laws/Standards

The AAO believes all other laws and standards, including those relating to dentistry and dental supervision, should be followed to the extent they are not directly and expressly addressed by any new teledentistry laws.

6. State Oversight

The AAO believes that states, including state dental boards, should ensure that teledentistry services are provided in compliance with their state business ownership, professional practice laws, and any relevant standards of care. The AAO believes that dental boards should have increased investigative and enforcement authority over non-licensees involved in administering or performing teledentistry services.

To the extent you have any questions about these teledentistry parameters, please call the AAO’s General Counsel, Trey Lawrence at 314-292-6525.

Please note, every orthodontist (as a citizen of and licensed dental provider in his or her state) and dental or orthodontic patient has the right to express his or her opinion on any dental issue to his or her state, territory, or provincial dental boards or authorities (https://www.aaoinfo.org/aao/state-dental-board-info), regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) – (https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/contact-fda), and their elected officials (e.g. Governor, state representative, etc.). If you feel so compelled, you may look up and contact the appropriate entity.

Thank you for your AAO membership!