The Florida Senate Committee on Health Policy this week unanimously passed a bill containing model language developed by the AAO and the Florida Association of Orthodontists. The legislation would strengthen accountability by requiring mail-order orthodontic companies to provide a dentist of record to consumers upon use of the product. The aim is to bring awareness and responsibility to direct-to-consumer orthodontics, and thus protect Floridians from potentially harmful and irreparable damage.

In January, 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.

To advance further in the Senate SB 356 must next be passed by the Banking and Insurance Committee, of which the bill sponsor, Senator Boyd, is the Chair. On the House side, the companion bill will first be heard by the Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee. That hearing is expected to take place soon.

Under current Florida law, DTC 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. Special thanks for Dr. Brown at this stage, for his testimony before the Senate Committee on Health Policy on Monday, March 6.

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. 

In addition, federal lawmakers who receive support from the AAO Political Action Committee influence not only regulatory issues in Washington, but bring political influence via relationships in the states they represent and can also make a big difference for the AAO’s state and local advocacy priorities nationwide. Please consider contributing to the AAOPAC today.