This week, legislation was filed in the Florida state legislature to bring awareness and responsibility to direct-to-consumer orthodontics in order to protect Floridians from potentially harmful and irreparable damage. The AAO and leaders of the Florida Association of Orthodontists worked together proactively to bring the specialty’s perspective and expertise to the attention of state legislators.
The legislation would add an accountability measure by requiring mail-order orthodontic companies to provide a dentist of record to consumers upon use of the product. Senate Bill 356 was filed by Senator Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton), and House Bill 503 was filed by Representative Kim Berfield (R-Clearwater) as companion legislation to the Senate version.
Florida’s 2023 legislative session is scheduled to commence on Tuesday, March 7 but bills can be pre-filed now.
Upon introduction, Senator Boyd said in a press release, “If you provide dental services, you should be held to the same health standards as a traditional practice. The Board of Dentistry exists for a reason—to give consumers a mechanism of oversight and discipline in the event of malpractice. This bill simply provides a way to better protect Floridians in the event of injury or harm for all treatment models.”
Representative Berfield added, “Improper use of these medical device products can cause serious and irreparable damage to your teeth. All we want is to have a dentist of record provided to all patients so that there is a licensed professional available should one be needed.”
Under current Florida law, these companies operate with no governing board or license, which renders harmed consumers unable to hold them accountable. This legislation strengthens patients’ rights. The legislation would:
- Require designation of a dentist of record.
- Require that any individual or corporation provide consumers with the dentist’s name, contact telephone number, after hours contact information for emergencies, and upon the patient’s request, the dentist’s license information for any licensed dentist who is providing dental services to the patient.
- Provide the option of additional grounds for disciplinary action by the Board of Dentistry in the event of noncompliance.
- Require a disclaimer recommending in-person examination with a licensed dentist to prevent injury or harm when:
- Taking an impression or digital scanning of the human tooth, teeth, or jaws
- Creating, supplying, or placing any prosthetic denture, bridge, appliance, or structure designed to be worn in the human mouth
- Correcting or attempting to correct malocclusions (misalignment) in teeth or jaws
Thank you to the Florida Association of Orthodontists’ leadership, including Dr. TJ Albert, Dr. Andy Brown, Dr. Eddy Sedeño, Dr. Steven Tinsworth and Dr. Jay Singer, for their partnership and support in this advocacy effort and coordination with the Florida Dental Association.
Through the AAO Component Legal Support Fund, the AAO and FAO drive grassroots advocacy engagement and works with local lobbyists to educate Florida lawmakers about the importance of orthodontic treatment and the potential health and safety risks of mail-order orthodontics. We are grateful to Senator Boyd and Representative Berfield for sponsoring legislation to address patient health and safety concerns in Florida relating to mail-order orthodontic treatment models.
In Florida and across the country, AAO advocacy is working with members locally to help advance our policy priorities. Our AAO Political Action Committee helps fuel advocacy success not only in Washington, D.C. but in states across the country as well. Consider sharing your support for advocacy now by contributing at AAOPAC.org.