Dental Board of California Sunset Review Oversight Hearing


By Erol Kilic

On December 28, 2023, DBC published its Sunset Review Report Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3 in preparation for its Sunset Review Oversight hearing before the Assembly Business and Professions Committee and the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee. The Board’s enabling act, section 1600, et seq. of the Business and Professions Code is scheduled to “sunset” or be repealed on January 1, 2025, if it is not extended during sunset review.

DBC’s report includes a summary of the Board’s activities over the past six years, updates the legislature regarding issues raised during its previous sunset review, and identifies 18 new issues the Board would like the legislature to consider during this sunset review period. Of note, the Board seeks to amend section 1628.7 of the Business and Professions Code to allow the Board to issue a probationary license similar to the procedure of the Medical Board of California. The Board states this amendment would make an easier process for both the Board and applicant who may be issued probationary licenses. Currently, according to the Board, an applicant that appeals their license denial (for conduct such as a criminal conviction related to the practice of dentistry) must go through a “costly and time-consuming” formal hearing. The Board’s amendments include the ability to deny licensure based on unprofessional conduct, the removal of the requirement to follow Administrative Procedure Act (APA) processes to issue a probationary license, and clarify the issuance of a probationary license would not require adjudication under the APA.

In preparation for DBC’s Joint Sunset Review Oversight hearing, committee staff issued a background paper for members of the respective Business and Professions committee, which provides background about the Board, updates the committees on the changes and improvements DBC made regarding the 15 issues raised from the previous sunset review, and identified 17 new issues to raise with the Board during this sunset review process.

On Tuesday, March 12, 2024, pursuant to Government Code Title 2, Division 2, Part 1, Chapter 1.5, Article 7.5, the Assembly Business and Professions Committee and the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee held a joint oversight hearing regarding DBC’s Sunset Review. The Board’s President, Dr. Alan Felsenfeld, as well as the Executive Officer, Dr. Tracy Montez, appeared on behalf of DBC.

Dr. Felsenfeld provided the initial presentation on behalf of DBC. Since 2023, DBC has been the subject of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Enlightened Enforcement Project, and the DBC has been working closely with DCA subject matter experts to review, update, and improve DBC enforcement processes, according to Dr. Felsenfeld. Complaint-driven inspections remain below 30 across the entire state. Further, sworn enforcement officer investigations of unlicensed dental practice resulted in misdemeanor and felony charges in southern California.

Assemblymember Carrillo questioned what steps DBC takes to ensure greater demographic representation among dental professionals in diverse communities. Dr. Montez responded that DBC is aware of the workforce shortages, but that those shortages are not as bad as reported, and instead stated the issue is more specific to an ability to hire. DBC is working with the Healthcare Access and Information Center to gather more data through various surveys, some of which have already shown such shortages are centered around LA County and Stanislaus County, according to Dr. Montez. Dr. Montez stated that DBC will work to identify greater mentorship program opportunities, especially regarding dental auxiliary positions. With respect to dentists specifically, Dr. Montez reiterated the existence of various pathways to work in California, where there used to be four and now there are five pathways to provide dental work in the state, and such efforts further facilitate the reinstitution of DBC’s Access to Care Committee. Dr. Felsenfeld also stated that DBC had opened a sixth dental school in California to address some of the shortage and representative concerns.

Assemblymember Carrillo then asked whether the DBC has considered any requirements that dental professionals trained in California must remain in the state, at least initially, to ensure greater access to dental care, specifically in underserved communities. Dr. Montez responded that there was a relevant grant program years ago. However, that grant funding has been depleted.

Assemblymember Soria seconded Assemblymember Carrillo’s concern and asked for greater details about DBC’s efforts to address shortage concerns in underserved communities. Dr. Montez reiterated that DBC does not have enough data on where dental school graduates go after graduation and that DBC does not currently collect that data. Further, Dr. Montez stated that DBC is working on legislation with a stakeholder association to examine a preceptorship pathway for dental assistants. Assemblymember Soria expressed concern about the lack of such data given DBC’s role as the sole provider of the relevant licenses in the state. Dr. Montez responded that such demographic data is typically connected with licensure renewal and unless the data is relevant to initial licensure qualifications, DBC does not ask for or record such information upon licensure due to “perceptual” concerns over licensing decisions potentially based on such information.


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