California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law that establishes greater transparency and consumer protections for patients who receive dental treatment via teledentistry. The law is aimed at protecting patients from direct-to-consumer orthodontic companies, like SmileDirectClub. 

The law, which takes effect on January 1, 2020, is the first patient protection measure of its kind in the country. 

The bill creates explicit parity in the standard of care, whether a dentist is treating a patient through teledentistry or in a dental office. AB 1519 requires that dentists providing orthodontics meet the basic, accepted standard of care by reviewing the patient’s recent x-rays prior to the movement of teeth. 

Teledentistry companies and dentists who use teledentistry will also be required to provide patients with basic information about their treating dentist, such as the dentist’s full name and state license number. Brick-and-mortar dental practices already provide the same information to patients. 

AB 1519 also preserves a consumer’s ability to submit complaints about licensees to the Dental Board of California—even if they have signed an arbitration clause or nondisclosure agreement. 

The bill is intended to address emerging business models offering various dental services outside of a dental office’s four walls, including companies that provide direct-to-consumer orthodontic services, ensuring that dental treatment continues to meet the standards of care.

The California Dental Association applauded the governor’s action on the new law.