The 2021 AAO House of Delegates (HOD) met virtually on April 25, adopting numerous resolutions of interest to members. In many cases, adopted resolutions support initiatives for advocacy on behalf of members and patients at the state and federal levels.

Resolutions adopted by the HOD include:

Extended, Automatic Funding for the Component Legal Support Fund
Since its inception in 2015, the Component Legal Support Fund has provided funding for the AAO to assist with advocacy issues in 40 states and two Canadian provinces. Historically, the CLSF has been set at $1 million and required an updated HOD vote each year. This year’s HOD action ensures that the CLSF will automatically be restored to $1 million at the beginning of each fiscal year, to be funded out of the AAO’s excess liquid reserves.

Approval of the Southern Association of Orthodontists/ Southwestern Society of Orthodontists Merger
The HOD approved the proposed merger of the Southern Association of Orthodontists and the Southwestern Society of Orthodontists, to become one AAO constituent organization.  Long-term processes related to the merger will be completed before the change takes effect.

In recent years, AAO governance task forces have recommended the merger of constituents to generate economies of scale and improve efficiency for larger meetings and professional management of constituents.

Setting of Member Dues and Consumer Awareness Program Assessment
● Dues rates rates* for 2020-21 will be:
– Active (US): $793.00 (unchanged since 2013)
– Active (Canada): $634.40 (80 percent of U.S. active member dues)
– International: $396.50 (50 percent of U.S. active member dues)
– Student: $30

As approved by the HOD in April 2020, the Consumer Awareness Program (CAP) budget for FY20-21, FY21-22 and FY22-23 is $5 million per year. In 2020 the member CAP assessment was reduced from $600 to $300 to provide some relief from the effect of pandemic-related office closures.

Rather than restoring the $600 level for 2021-22, the HOD approved the $400 assessment in recognition of members’ continued need for financial relief due to COVID-19 closures. The remaining CAP funding for FY21-22 (an estimated $1.9 million) will come from excess liquid reserves.

* Regarding the dues amounts listed, discounts are available to active academic and life active members, and to active members in their first four years of practice.

** Regarding the CAP assessment, discounts are available to life active and active members in their first four years in their first four years in practice.  Active academic members are exempt, as are international and student members.

Updates to the AAO Clinical Practice Guidelines
A key resolution adopted by the HOD called for updates to the AAO Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG). The HOD approved CPG updates to address orthodontic treatment provided by general dentists and clarify that patient health and safety require that these dentists follow the AAO guidelines.

The CPG as originally written used a variety of words to refer to the individual responsible for elements of orthodontic treatment. These terms included practitioner, provider, clinician, and orthodontist. The revised version of the CPG approved by the HOD replaced nearly all of these references with the term dentist, not to indicate approval of non-specialists providing orthodontic treatmentbut to underscore that general dentists who do so should comply with AAO treatment guidelines.

The Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee examined the question of whether the CPG should apply only to orthodontic specialists, or to anyone providing orthodontic care. The Committee concluded that the term dentist will be used to make clear that the CPG “encompasses all licensed dental practitioners providing orthodontic care.

The AAO has consistently stated that orthodontic treatment should be provided by an orthodontic specialist and will continue to do so. To that end, the revisions to the CPG also include addition of the following statement: “The additional formal education of the orthodontist makes them the best qualified practitioner for management of orthodontic issues.”

The CPG Committee noted in its recommendation to the HOD that the number of non-orthodontists providing orthodontic care has increased, and nearly all jurisdictions in North America permit dentists to provide orthodontic care legally. The Committee also recognized that the CPG may be introduced as evidence of the standard of care in lawsuits involving orthodontic treatment, whether provided by an orthodontist or a non-orthodontist.  

The CPG Committee recommended the wording change to convey that anyone providing orthodontic care (specialist or non-specialist) should be held to the same standards.  The committee expressed a belief that this change would best protect patients receiving orthodontic treatment.

Coming Next Week:  Part 2 of the 2021 HOD Resolutions
In next week’s eBulletin, we will provide continued coverage of resolutions adopted by the  2021 HOD. All HOD actions are summarized in the chart linked below.
View the 2021 HOD Actions Chart