Calif. judge overturns dental advertising law

2009 11 18 10 18 09 377 Gavel 70

A federal court judge in California has ruled that credentials issued to dentists by the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) are bona fide and legitimate, and state laws that prohibit or restrict advertising them to the public are unconstitutional.

On October 15, Judge John Mendez, for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, struck down a state law that effectively prevented dentists from advertising credentials issued by the AAID, which demonstrate their training and proficiency in implant dentistry. He said that the AAID and the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry (ABOI/ID) "are bona fide credentialing organizations whose standards are rigorous, objectively clear, and verifiable. These are not fly-by-night credentialing organizations. They take their role and responsibility seriously."

“These are not fly-by-night credentialing organizations.”
— Judge John Mendez, U.S. District
     Court for the Eastern District of

The AAID called the verdict a victory for consumers as well as dentists. "We are very pleased with this decision," said AAID President Joseph Orrico, DDS, in a press release. "It validates the rights of dentists with AAID credentials to advertise them to the public without disclaimers and provide valid information from which consumers can assess the qualifications of dentists to perform implants."

Noting that the consumer is more protected by receiving information about AAID and ABOI/ID credentials, Mendez wrote: "Where is the harm in giving consumers more information about the ABOI/ID and the AAID credentialing programs? And the answer is there is no harm. It only benefits the consumer."

In an ironic twist, two specialists appeared as witnesses for the state of California, yet testified that they had also sought out additional training from the AAID.

"The judge said that speaks volumes as to how AAID and ABOI/ID are viewed within the profession as a bona fide organization in every sense of the word," said Frank Recker, DDS, JD, AAID's chief counsel.

The verdict establishes another strong precedent overturning advertising restrictions on AAID credentials, following a similar decision in April 2009 by a Florida state court, Dr. Orrico noted.

"Demand for dental implants is rising, and more dentists need comprehensive training to become highly skilled at implant procedures," he said. "There is a higher risk with the procedure if the dentist has limited experience."

AAID's implant dentistry credentialing program requires at least 300 hours of postdoctoral instruction in implant dentistry, passing a comprehensive exam, and presenting successful cases of different types of implants to a group of examiners.

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