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Alabama Dental Examiners Agree to Stop Practice Excluding Teledentistry Platforms

September 29, 2021 by Victoria Turner
(Photo via Pixabay)

The Alabama Board of Dental Examiners will no longer require licensed dentists to supervise the scans performed on potential patient’s teeth alignment, a practice which the Federal Trade Commission found excluded cheaper online providers like SmileDirectClub, Candid Co. and SmileLove since 2017, according to the commission Tuesday. 

The companies provide braces and clear aligners through teledentistry at lower prices consumers may prefer along with the convenience of accessing services online.

When the companies began offering their cheaper online options through their teledentistry platforms, the Board made a rule amendment prohibiting dental hygienists and non-dentist practitioners from performing these scans without on-site supervision.

The state agency, which issues dental licensing across Alabama, had sent a letter to SmileDirectClub when they amended the rule, requesting the oral care company to stop its “unauthorized practice of dentistry” and causing them to forgo opening any other locations in Alabama.

The complaint filed with the FTC alleged that the board, made up of six licensed dentists and one licensed dental hygienist, “unreasonably exclude emerging competition from certain new and innovative teledentistry platforms,” violating antitrust laws by excluding competition. Given that the seven board members are active market participants, they are supposed to be “actively supervised by the state,” a release stated, “and they were not.” 

In response to the order, SmileDirectClub issued a statement of gratitude to the FTC.

“We will continue to work with and educate dental boards and associations across the country on the many benefits of our telehealth platform that has already helped more than 1.5 million people worldwide get a smile that they love,” said Susan Greenspon Rammelt, SmileDirectClub’s chief legal officer and executive vice president of business affairs.

Aside from halting the exclusionary practice, the proposed consent order also requires the board to inform the FTC of any rule changes on alignment scans or aligner platforms. 

To read the consent agreement click here

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