American Association of Orthodontists’ Current Teledentistry Parameters
Teledentistry and the AAO
The topic of teledentistry is being discussed more and more, and the AAO has been a crucial stakeholder on this issue and will continue to advocate and participate in the discussions. When it comes to teledentistry, the AAO supports increased access to dental care provided it is in the best interest of patients’ health and safety and complies with other laws. With that in mind, the AAO’s Legal and Advocacy Department worked with the AAO Board of Trustees to approve the following Teledentistry Parameters. These current parameters are central to what the AAO believes should be considered to protect patients’ health and safety, as teledentistry laws are being created.
1. In-Person Examination/Evaluation
The AAO believes there are certain diagnoses and evaluations that can only be performed in-person or are best performed in-person (x-rays, etc.). There are several categories of problems or conditions that many dentists typically look for as part of a physical examination at the outset of traditional in-person treatment. This can include potentially serious conditions, such as oral cancer, periodontal problems, advanced decay, gum disease, etc. With this in mind, and although it might make sense to perform an initial consult via teledentistry, the AAO believes teledentistry TREATMENT should not occur before a physical, in-person examination/evaluation of the patient has occurred by a state-licensed dentist.
2. Geographic Proximity
To the extent that a teledentistry patient would need to see the dentist providing teledentistry services for any reason (follow-up care, emergency, etc.), the AAO believes that dentists performing these services should have a physical office location within a certain geographic proximity of the patient. With that in mind, the AAO believes dentists who provide teledentistry services should practice within 120 miles (or approximately a two-hour drive) of the patient’s location, unless the patient has previously seen the dentist physically, in-person and is a patient of record of the treating dentist.
3. Doctor Information
Regardless of modality, the AAO believes patients should always be aware of their treating dentists’ (or potential dentists’) information, including where the dentist treating him or her is located, or otherwise how to reach his or her dentist if needed. Furthermore, the AAO believes teledentistry laws should require those dentists who are performing teledentistry services to disclose (via public website, etc.) their name, license number, telephone number, practice address, and education credentials to patients or the public who may be using or interested in their teledentistry services.
4. Doctor Owned/Controlled
The AAO believes teledentistry platforms or services should have doctor control and/or ownership.
5. Other Laws/Standards
The AAO believes all other laws and standards, including those relating to dentistry and dental supervision, should be followed to the extent they are not directly and expressly addressed by any new teledentistry laws.
The AAO believes those performing teledentistry services must have the appropriate dental licensure. The AAO believes those performing teledentistry services should not only be a licensed dentist in the state where the patient is receiving the services, but also licensed in the state where the dentist is located while performing the teledentistry services. The foregoing licensure requirements do not apply to emergency situations in which the patient has previously seen the dentist physically, in-person and is a patient of record of the treating dentist.
7. Dental Board Authority
To the extent teledentistry services might involve companies and non-licensees, the AAO believes dental boards should have increased investigative and enforcement authority over non-licensees involved in administering or performing teledentistry services.
To the extent you have any questions about these teledentistry parameters, please call the AAO’s Associate General Counsel, Trey Lawrence at 314-292-6525.
Please note, every orthodontist (as a citizen of and licensed dental provider in his or her state) and dental or orthodontic patient has the right to express his or her opinion on any dental issue to his or her state, territory, or provincial dental boards or authorities (https://www.aaoinfo.org/aao/state-dental-board-info), regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) – (https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/contact-fda), and their elected officials (e.g. Governor, state representative, etc.). If you feel so compelled, you may look up and contact the appropriate entity.
Thank you for your AAO membership!