State dental boards are entrusted to promote excellent service in dentistry and to protect the public through licensure, education and enforcement of standards with fairness and integrity.
The filing of a complaint against you with your state’s dental board is one of the most serious matters a dentist can face. This is because dental board law differs from laws governing other courts. Dental board matters are heard before an administrative law judge. Administrative law standards for admission of evidence or testimony and burden of proof may vary from a civil lawsuit. Depending on the severity of the allegation, dental boards have the power to limit or stop you from practicing dentistry either temporarily or permanently.
While a dental board complaint might be considered an occupational risk, they should never be taken lightly because their potential outcomes can, in some cases, be life-changing for the dentist named in the complaint. The decision of the state dental board can impact the dentist financially, limit his/her ability to practice, and cause significant harm to the reputation of the dentist and the practice. Always comply with any rulings or sanctions issued by your state dental board. If you receive a complaint from the dental board you should consult an attorney. Your dental malpractice carrier may provide one.
An effective way to reduce the likelihood that you’ll be the subject of a complaint to the dental board is to maintain meticulous and accurate records for every patient and during every visit.
The American Dental Association’s (ADA) Tip Sheet on Dental Board Complaints provides information about who can file complaints against a dentist with the dental board, what to do if you are named in a complaint, and possible outcomes of dental board complaints.
The ADA Tip Sheet on Dental Board Complaints (PDF)