Pictured: Dr. Frank DeQuattro, Dr. John (Jack) Kacewicz, Sean Murphy (Associate General Counsel, AAO), and Dr. Mike Ferry (President, RIAO)

On January 30, 2017, the Rhode Island Department of Health held a public hearing regarding its proposed amendments to the Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Dentists – Dental Hygienists – and Dental Assistants.  With over fifty pages of proposed revisions, there were definitely sections applicable to Rhode Island orthodontists.  Realizing this, the leadership of the Rhode Island Association of Orthodontists (RIAO) applied for legal help through the AAO’s Component Legal Support Fund, which was quickly approved by the AAO’s Board of Trustees.  As a result, Sean Murphy, the AAO’s Associate General Counsel, was able to testify in support of the RIAO’s positions.  “We were impressed by the speed with which the AAO responded to the need of a Component,” Dr. Jack Kacewicz stated, “I called the AAO last Wednesday for their advice and help and five days later the AAO’s Associate General Counsel, Sean Murphy, is here, testifying on behalf of the RIAO.”

Overall, Mr. Murphy stressed the benefits of certified orthodontic assistants (under an orthodontist’s supervision) being able to place/remove bonded orthodontic attachments and cement/remove orthodontic bands (which certified assistants were previously unable to do).  Mr. Murphy also highlighted the efficiencies of allowing orthodontic assistants to perform digital scans and impressions under an orthodontist’s supervision.  The Rhode Island Department of Health recorded Mr. Murphy’s comments and other public comments, and will be considering those statements while finalizing its Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Dentists – Dental Hygienists – and Dental Assistants.  After the hearing, Dr. Mike Ferry, President of the RIAO, commented, “Having an AAO representative present on behalf of the RIAO was very helpful in showing the Rhode Island Department of Health and Board of Dental Examiners that we take these issues very seriously as orthodontists.”

The AAO Component Legal Support Fund, established by a vote of the 2015 House of Delegates, provides grants to component organizations to assist with state legal and legislative issues that impact orthodontic practices.  If your state has a pending legislative or regulatory issue that could use the AAO’s help, please reach out to your component’s leadership and encourage them to submit a Component Legal Support Fund application.  For any other information about the legal support fund, please contact Sean Murphy, AAO Associate General Counsel, at smurphy@aaortho.org.