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Utah Enacts Teledentistry Law That Protects Patient Health and Safety

Earlier this year, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law Senate Bill 135, addressing the use of teledentistry to provide dental care. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 25-1, and the House with a vote of 67-0.

This important legislation:

  • Defines teledentistry as the practice of dentistry.
  • Creates parity laws for standard of care between teledentistry and a traditional physical setting.
  • Requires that dental hygienists collaborating with a dentist still practice according to the appropriate levels of supervision and in accordance with existing supervision laws.
  • Prohibits a dental hygienist, other dental auxiliary, or any other teledentistry provider from carrying out duties through teledentistry that require the in-person supervision of a licensed dentist.
  • Prohibits a licensed dental professional or any entity employing a licensed dental professional to require a patient to sign an agreement that limits the patient’s ability to file a complaint with the division.
  • Sets standards for informed consent when using teledentistry, which specifically include the name, contact information, licensure, credentials, and qualifications for all dentists and hygienists involved in a patient’s care, and precautions and protocols for technological failures or emergencies.

Dr. Jamey Watson, the President of the Utah Association of Orthodontists (UAO), led the advocacy efforts in Utah over the past year. In the fall of 2019, Dr. Watson represented the UAO at a dental board meeting and gave his recommendations about the appropriate use of teledentistry. Dr. Watson also met with legislators to educate them about the importance of patient health and safety regarding orthodontic treatment and the need for Utah to create laws that support the use of teledentistry as appropriate.

For several months, the AAO’s legal and advocacy department worked the UAO, as well as our Utah lobbyists, to support SB 135.  We believe that this legislation will allow teledentistry to grow in a thoughtful and appropriate way, while also protecting the health and safety of Utah patients. You can view the full bill HERE.

The Utah Dental Association and Utah Dental Hygienists Association also advocated for and supported SB 135. The Utah Dentist and Dental Hygienist Licensing Board is currently reviewing teledentistry regulations, and the AAO and the UAO are actively participating in the public rulemaking process.