ADA Amends Code of Conduct to Acknowledge Additional Specialties

Dentistry Today


The ADA’s House of Delegates amended the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct during its recent meeting in Denver to acknowledge dental specialties recognized in a practitioner’s jurisdiction even if the ADA does not formally include them among the 9 dental specialties it now recognizes. This shift follows a lawsuit in Texas earlier this year challenging the ADA’s limitations on how dentists can promote themselves as specialists.

“The American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) has been successful in pursuing the rights of dentists to advertise their credentials earned from bona fide organizations in specialties not recognized by the ADA,” said Frank Recker, DDS, JD, and AAID attorney. “I believe that AAID’s recent victory in the state of Texas, in which a Federal District Court ruled that the state’s regulation that deferred only to the ADA specialties as unconstitutional, was a significant reason for the change voted on by the ADA House of Delegates.”

The amendment to Section 5.H of the Code would permit educationally qualified dentists practicing in areas of dentistry recognized as specialties in their jurisdictions but not by the ADA to announce as specialists. However, the amendment qualified that dentists holding these specialty degrees could practice to the full scope of the licenses that they hold as long as they maintain adequate expertise in the specialty.

“It’s a fairly significant change. The bottom line is that it keeps dentists in line with the Code of Ethics, which puts patients first,” said Michael Halasz, DDS, a general practitioner and chair of the ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws, and Judicial Affairs. Halasz also noted that the legal landscape for recognizing specialties has dramatically changed recently, with states recognizing specialties beyond the 9 recognized by the ADA.

“We’re trying to stay ahead of the issues,” Halasz said.

“Patients will now have information that helps them make better and more informed choices for their oral healthcare,” said Richard Mercurio, DDS, AAID president.

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