AAID Claims Victory in Texas Specialization Case

Dentistry Today


The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi may not enforce provisions that prohibit dentists from advertising as specialists in areas not recognized by the ADA. Ruling in favor of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), the court said that such rules would be an unconstitutional restriction on the right to free commercial speech. The ruling affirmed a lower court decision by a 2 to 1 majority.

The lower court declared Texas administration regulation Section 108.54 of the Texas Administrative Code unconstitutional. The regulation restricts specialties in Texas to only those recognized by the ADA. AAID, along with 3 other dental organizations and 5 individual Texas dentists, filed suit challenging the regulation.

The Court of Appeals wrote that “Section 108.54 completely prohibits the plaintiffs (AAID, et al) from advertising as specialists in their fields solely because the ADA has not recognized their practice areas as specialties. The Board [Texas State Dental Board of Examiners] has not justified Section 108.54 with argument or evidence.” 

“This is a major step forward for patients throughout the Fifth Circuit. More information will now be available to help them decide who to use for their dental needs,” said AAID president Shankar Iyer, DDS, MDS. “Patients won’t need to guess whether a dentist who is trained in treating gum disease or extracting teeth is also experienced in the complex and comprehensive field of implant placement and restoration.” 

“This affirmation by the Court of Appeals clearly validates the recognition of Diplomate status earned through our board,” said Arthur Molzan, DDS, president of the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry. “Our requirements demand extensive knowledge of both the surgical as well as the restorative phases of implant dentistry.”

“This Court of Appeals decision continues a string of legal victories supporting the proposition that non-ADA recognized specialties in fact do exist, are bona fide, and dentists board certified in those fields such as implant dentistry may inform the public of their specialization,” said Frank Recker, DDS, JD, AAID general counsel.

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