Assemblymember Evan Low Introduces Legislation to Require Dentists to Conduct In-Person Examinations Before Approving Teleorthodontics Treatment

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By Katie Abajian

AB 1998 (Low), as introduced January 27, 2020, would amend section 1680 of the Business and Professions Code to make it unprofessional conduct for a dentist to diagnose and correct malpositions of human teeth or use orthodontic appliances without first performing an in-person examination.  This bill would change existing law by clarifying that the required examination must be “in-person.”

The bill comes at a time of ongoing legal disputes between SmileDirectClub and the Dental Board of California regarding the practice of teledentistry, and increased scrutiny of direct-to-consumer teleorthodontics companies, such as those that permit consumers to purchase self-applied clear aligners for teeth without first seeing a dentist.  Assemblymember Low, as chair of the Assembly Committee on Business & Professions, authored AB 1519 (Low) (Chapter 865, Statutes of 2019), which initially amended section 1680 to establish basic requirements for these products prior to treatment.  In a press release, the author states that this bill is intended to further establish patient protections with respect to teleorthodontic services. According to the author, “The industry should view AB 1998 as a sign that the Legislature is serious about requiring meaningful safeguards if these questionable and controversial business practices are allowed to continue.”  He promises to gather broad stakeholder input, including input from teleorthodontic companies, before further amending the bill. Assemblymember Low has also stated that he “intends to convene an informational hearing to discuss how policymakers should correctly balance patient access and patient safety as emerging telehealth products come to market.”

AB 1998 is currently pending in the Assembly Business & Professions Committee.  To provide your input on this bill, register on the legislature’s webpage and click on the “Comments to Author” tab to submit your comments.

 

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