Academy hails verdict allowing advertising of bona fide dental credentials

April 8, 2009
American Academy of Implant Dentistry says verdict is a victory for consumers in evaluating qualifications and experience of dentists who perform implant procedures.

CHICAGO, Illinois--A Florida judge has ruled that a state law restricting how dentists can advertise credentials issued by bona fide professional organizations is unconstitutional and violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The American Academy of Implant Dentistry said the verdict is a victory for consumers in evaluating the qualifications and experience of dentists who perform implant procedures and for practitioners entitled to promote their credentials to the public.

"We are very pleased with this decision recognizing the rights of dentists with bona fide credentials to advertise them to the public without negative disclaimers and offer consumers valid information from which they can evaluate qualifications of dentists in their communities," said AAID President Beverly Dunn, DDS. "Also, the decision noted that AAID and other dental organizations provide substantial training that enhances proficiency and competency and benefits consumers as well."

At issue was a Florida statute preventing advertising of membership in or credentials earned from any dental organization not recognized by the Florida Board of Dentistry. Florida's dental board only recognizes specialty credentials issued by the American Dental Association.

Therefore, implant dentists who wanted to advertise their AAID credentials had to include an onerous disclaimer that implant dentistry is not a recognized specialty of ADA or the FDB and that AAID is not a recognized specialty accrediting organization.

The case stemmed from multiple challenges to the constitutionality of the Florida statute by dentists with credentials from AAID, the Academy of General Dentistry, and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Circuit Court Judge Frank E. Sheffield ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on April 3.

"The court found that these advertising restrictions were unconstitutional on many grounds," said Frank. R. Recker, DDS, JD, AAID's chief counsel. "They violated the Florida constitution's guarantee of the right to be rewarded for industry or professional achievement and First and 14th Amendment rights of free speech and equal protection of the law

Dunn added that the Florida decision establishes a strong precedent that could form the basis for challenging advertising restrictions in other states, if necessary.

"Demand for dental implants is rising, and more dentists need comprehensive training to become highly skilled at implant procedures," said Dunn. "Attending a weekend course isn't enough. There is a higher level of risk with the procedure if the dentist has limited experience."

AAID offers a rigorous implant dentistry credentialing program which requires at least 300 hours of postdoctoral instruction in implant dentistry, passing a comprehensive exam, and presenting to a group of examiners successful cases of different types of implants. It is one of the most comprehensive credentialing programs in dentistry.

AAID can help consumers find a local credentialed implant dentist at American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

To read more about the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, go to American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

To comment on this topic, go to PennWell Dental Community site.