The North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners recently adopted amendments to the state’s dental specialty advertising policy that align with recommendations made by the AAO as part of an effort made possible by the Component Legal Support Fund.

In early 2018, the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners proposed changes to 21 NCAC 16p.0105, the state’s regulation pertaining to advertising as a “specialist.”  Specifically, the Board proposed revisions to loosen the rule, which would allow anyone approved by the American Dental Association (including orthodontists) to advertise as “specialists,” as well as permitting those approved by the American Board of Dental Specialties or the Royal College of Dentists of Canada to advertise as “specialists.” 

The AAO legal team participated and advocated throughout the Board’s process of considering changes to the rule, urging that North Carolina patients would best be served by not diluting the “specialty” definition as proposed by the Board.  Specifically, the AAO supports requirements that those practicing and/or advertising as “specialists” have completed a qualifying post-doctoral advanced dental education program in that area.  A qualifying post-doctoral educational program is a full-time postdoctoral advanced dental education program accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and specifically, by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
The AAO’s participation and advocacy during this process included AAO attorney Sean Murphy attending and speaking at the first Board meeting on this topic, and AAO attorney Trey Lawrence attending and speaking at a second Board hearing on these issues, in October 2018.  The AAO legal team also submitted written comments on the proposed revisions to the rule. 
On January 17, 2019, the Board voted to adopt the amendments to the specialty advertising regulations that aligned with the AAO’s comments.  This was the desired result and allows North Carolina members to continue advertising as specialists, while ensuring that anyone advertising as a “specialist” has met the CODA-based requirements for the “specialist” designation. 
The Board’s vote marked the final chapter of the AAO’s successful work in North Carolina on the specialty advertising issue.  The AAO’s work in North Carolina was made possible through the Component Legal Support Fund, which was established by a vote of the 2015 House of Delegates and provides grants to component organizations to assist with state legal and legislative issues that impact orthodontic practices.  To date, the CLSF is assisting over 20 components and two Canadian provinces with legal and advocacy issues.
Please note, every orthodontist (as a citizen of and licensed dental provider in his or her state) and orthodontic patient has the right, independently and individually, to express his or her opinion on any dental issue to his or her state dental board and elected officials. If you feel so compelled, you may contact your state’s dental board. Contact information for state dental boards can be found by clicking  here.