An informal group of Wisconsin dentists is petitioning the Wisconsin Dentistry Examining Board to carefully consider a proposal that they say would raise the cost of dental treatments using oral sedation without providing any additional safety or service.
The Concerned Dentists of Washington (CDW) contends that if the proposed changes are approved, the resulting higher dental fees will drive patients away, particularly patients with lower incomes who often most need dental care that requires sedation.
The CDW is asking other Wisconsin dentists to express their concern by adding their name to the online petition.
The group says that its appeal is noteworthy because many of its members would not be subject to the new regulations themselves since there is a provision to “grandfather in” existing oral sedation permit holders.
Under the proposal now in front of the board, future Wisconsin dentists would have to undergo the same rigorous sedation training as IV sedation-permitted dentists to obtain a permit to provide “moderate oral sedation.”
The CDW says that the fact that the new regulations would grandfather in some of the estimated 400 Wisconsin dentists who already hold oral sedation permits is conclusive proof that the existing rules present no danger to patients.
The group further says that it knows of no evidence under existing state regulations and standards of care that any patient has been seriously injured by an oral sedation dentist who adheres to the rules currently in effect.
By the CDW’s estimate, more than 60,000 state residents have been safely and effectively treated by dentists practicing under existing permit requirements.
The proposed regulations mirror guidelines approved in 2016 by the ADA, the CDW says, though more than 20 states have rejected those updates. Instead, the CDW adds, those states continue to rely on rules that resemble those Wisconsin already has in place.
The 2016 ADA guidelines and the proposed Wisconsin regulations are supported by a small but influential group of dental specialists, the CDW says, including oral surgeons, who many general dentists believe are acting more out of economic self-interest than a desire to protect patients.
If Wisconsin regulators require general dentists who administer oral sedation to receive the same training as those who administer IV sedation, the CDW says, they will force many patients who need sedation dentistry to seek high-priced specialists or skip dental care altogether.
The CDW further emphasizes that there is no scientific or clinical evidence that patients in those states that have not embraced the ADA guidelines have any higher incidents of patient injuries.