The American Dental Association issued a statement commending the California Dental Association (CDA) for its efforts in passing a new state law that offers protections to patients undergoing treatment via teledentistry. 

“This is a very positive development for teledentistry, which the ADA supports as a technology that will increase access to care for the public,” said Chad P. Gehani, DDS, president of the ADA. “The law requires parity of teledentistry platforms with the quality of care provided to patients in their dentists’ offices.” 

The law requires patients have access to their treating dentist’s name, license number, and dental board contact information; a review of a patient’s most recent x-rays prior to beginning orthodontic treatment; and a patient examination, including completion of a medical and dental history, diagnosis, and treatment plan. In addition, the law provides patients with recourse to report to the California dental board incidents of treatment that fall below the standard of care, even if the patient has signed an arbitration clause or nondisclosure agreement. 

“Parity in the quality of care provided to patients regardless of how dental services are delivered also includes documented, ongoing review of treatment progress so any necessary modifications to it can be made,” Gehani said.

“With emerging business models offering various dental services outside of a dental office’s four walls, including companies that provide direct-to-consumer orthodontic services, it is imperative that dental treatment continues to meet the standards of care,” the California Dental Association stated in an October 14 news release. “[The law] ensures that telehealth advancements continue to develop in a thoughtful way that puts patient safety first and is as effective as in-person treatment.”

A number of states have passed or are in the process of passing legislation that promotes parity in the standard of care for teledentistry with in-office care. Massachusetts has several bills pending related to telemedicine, including bills that would define and outline the practices and protocols for healthcare providers, including an oral health provider. Meanwhile, current laws in Arizona, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, and Tennessee require that delivery of teledentistry services be consistent with in-person delivery of care or that the teledental services comply with the scope of practice laws in the state. 

The California law takes effect on January 1, 2020.